Altoona, Blair County, Pa. - The head of Blair County's Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program is encouraged by President Trump's declaration of the opioid epidemic as a public health emergency. Judy Rosser hopes it increases funding for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, which she believes has been underfunded for years.
According to Rosser, the number of fatal overdoses in Blair County more than doubled in the year from 1999 to 2000, and the issue has become a runaway train. Sixty-five percent of the overdose deaths are being caused by prescription drugs and 30 percent of those affected are over 50 years old.
Rosser says,"They're part of our community, they're impacting our community, they're impacting their family, and so that has a trickle effect on how it impacts business, people who are employers of family members, so I am glad to see there's that national attention on that."
She says Pennsylvania did receive $23 million to combat the opioid epidemic and that's helped improve local services. She adds that expanding Medicaid has also resulted in more people receiving treatment.