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Task Force Trying To Curb Overdose Deaths

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Drug addiction and fatal overdoses have become an epidemic, but now different segments of the community are coming together in a concerted effort to address it.

It's called the Overdose Prevention Task Force of Allegheny County and it's trying to make an impact.

"It's a team effort bringing together the best of health care people, political people, business people, families," Neil Capretto, with Gateway Rehab, said.

At the emergency department of Allegheny General Hospital, they're now screening impaired patients for drug or alcohol problems and intervening.

"To really help identify people early on who may have potential problems and get them into therapy," a doctor said.

The Pitt and Duquesne schools of pharmacy are teaching pharmacists to identify and thwart those abusing prescription drugs.

"One of the things we want them to do is to understand the different ways the patients have access to the medication they're trying to divert or get a hold of. "

Perhaps most importantly, parents who've lost children to drug addiction are going public to dispel the stigma.

"It's an illness," Ron Owen said. "Let's get over it. Let's fix it and deal with it."

Pitt's Jan Pringle says the task force has a lofty goal.

"The objective is to reduce overdoses to zero," she said. "It's the ideal objective to have no overdoses anymore in Allegheny County."

Only time will tell if this effort will have an impact, but with people dying of overdoses every day, time is of the essence.

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