Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) participated in a panel discussion hosted by Susquehanna Valley Conservatives on drug and alcohol problems facing local populations.

LEWISBURG — An unconventional approach to opioid addiction was among the suggestions heard during a Monday night panel discussion.

Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), told persons attending the monthly meeting of the Susquehanna Valley Conservatives, that treatment with total abstinence as its the goal may not work in all cases for a person addicted to opioids.

Maintenance through prescribed use of methadone, Suboxone or similar medications may prove to be a practical way to avoid the worst and most costly aspects of opioid addiction.

“I’ve started to read a lot more about it,” Yaw said. “The more we talk about a disease, then why don’t we treat it like a disease?”

Treatment of other illnesses may prove to be exemplary.

“We don’t look at people and say (they) should go out and exercise and then stop blood pressure medicine,” Yaw said. “It’s just like the diabetic. Their body failed them in some way. It’s not processing things right.”

Opioids, Yaw observed, can be handled by some persons successfully. But when certain receptors in the brain are opened, it is rare for that person to recover.

Yaw admitted the suggestion was out of the box. It received not noticeable reaction among audience members when it was time for questions.

“Tonight was the first night I’ve said anything publicly about it,” Yaw said later. “I’ve talked to doctors and they agree. It makes absolute sense.”

Richard J. Shoch, Northumberland County commissioner, referred to Dr. Raymond Kraynak, a Mount Carmel physician indicted for allegedly operating a “pill mill.” Shoch said while other medical people were shocked by the number of pills allegedly prescribed, the support the physician garnered in his defense were shocking.

“Collectively, in the community it seemed there was just a turning a blind eye to something people already suspected,” Shoch said. “We as a community need to get more diligent and take more ownership of that so we don’t see situations like that in the future.”

Shoch suspected other agencies or businesses could be held accountable as the proceedings move forward.

Preston Boop, Union County commissioner, noted that various county services should be more able to intervene when the time is right. Early childhood development, in the school systems and children and youth departments are where the awareness is needed.

Joe Kantz, Snyder County commissioner, said it was frustrating that prevention is not talked about enough.

“If every single one of us are watching and looking out for our families and friends, we can make a difference,” Kantz said.

He noted that when a young relative recently had a sports injury, he communicated with his mom to ensure that if he is prescribed an opioid, a minimal amount should be prescribed.

Also attending were Scott Kerstetter, Union County deputy chief probation officer, Rep. Fred Keller (R-85), Daniel Lichtel, Mifflinburg Area School District superintendent and Matt Sliviski, Snyder County chief public defender. Charlie, Union County Sheriffs K9 Officer, found a packet of “weed” planted in a brief case. He is trained to find marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and ecstasy.

Staff Writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at matt@standard-journal.com.

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