Battling opioid epidemic forum May 9

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By Kayla Vaughn

The opioid crisis has crept into communities across the country, including Lancaster County.
On Thursday, May 9, experts will open the floor for questions about the epidemic at B.A.T.T.L.E. (Bringing Awareness to the Local Epidemic), a forum hosted by Lancaster County Coroner Karla Deese and Chainbreakers Outreach founder Delois Carpenter.
The forum will feature a panel of doctors, law officers, emergency responders, counselors and other experts, as well as recovering addicts and survivors who have lost family or friends to opioid addiction.
During last year’s event, only standing room remained in County Council chambers – and every attendee brought at least one question.
Deese said the number of opioid-related deaths has decreased in recent years, but the number of deaths involving fentanyl has spiked, an issue she said needs to be discussed.
“Those deaths decreased in 2018, but we saw a tremendous rise in the number of deaths directly related to fentanyl,” Deese said, “which tells us that drugs coming into the area are much more concentrated with fentanyl now than they’ve ever been.”
Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine and has a very high risk of addiction and dependence.
Deese said the drug is extremely dangerous and highly undetectable. Users rarely know if what they bought contains fentanyl.  
This year, the panel will include family and friends of loved ones who’ve died from opioid addictions sharing their stories.
“Once it was taboo to talk about it; now people are coming forward to talk about it,” Deese said.
“Some of them have never been before, but they happily agreed to it this year. They are all really passionate about bringing awareness to this epidemic we’re facing.”
The event begins at 6 p.m. in Lancaster County Council chambers at the Lancaster County Administration Building, 101 N. Main St., Lancaster, and is open to the public.

Follow Kayla Vaughn on Twitter @kaybvaughn or contact her at (803) 416-8416.