SPRINGFIELD>> With no end in sight to the epidemic, county residents received information Thursday evening from a panel of experts on what they can do to get help as the prominence of opioids and related drugs infiltrate families and kill thousands in the state every year.
Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland was joined by David Moran, director of the Crozer-Keystone Recovery Center, certified recovery specialists Regina Marchetti and Andrew Matthews, and Sean Rodgers, director of community relations for Center for Families held a forum at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Springfield to bring their own perspectives on addiction and treatment.
“The cliché is that people have to hit bottom before they get help,” said Moran. “I don’t believe that. The bottom is when someone starts changing and going up. At the bottom, what happens is they’re introduced to the hope. (Drug court) is the bottom for some people, that’s the end and they start going up.”
Marchetti said drug court was her bottom which led her to treatment, and now she has been a recovery specialist for two years and sober for four.
“It was a program that forced me to do things that I didn’t want to do,” she said. “It got me into intensive outpatient treatment for two years.”
Marchetti added, “That’s the kind of thing that comes with people who are in crisis: people get a background in the criminal justice system… and the fear that comes moving on in life. This position has helped me do that.”
She said in the last six months of her program she was offered an employment opportunity as a recovery specialist and it was the people in treatment who, “could see something in me that I couldn’t see in myself.”
Copeland was the one who started the county’s treatment court back in 1998, which has been operating ever since. She said the goal of it is to get people into treatment who need it and not to put them in jail and having them return to the criminal justice system due to lack of treatment.
As a prosecutor of 25 years at the state and federal level Copeland said the scope of work in representing the government has shifted to include responses to addiction and how to keep communities safe from affiliated criminal activities and how to solve addiction.
“It’s not just prosecuting cases, but it’s to help people to keep our communities safer and finding new and innovative ways of solving those problems,” she said. “(The epidemic) is one of those things that affects all of us.”
Work through the county’s Heroin Task Force, which is chaired by Copeland, has increased access to treatment and better resources to combat addiction, including the hiring of county-wide certified recovery specialists and a $1 million investment into the First Steps Treatment Center at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.
With a number of treatment options in the county, a question posed to the panel was what length of time in a treatment center will help someone?
Aside from Copeland, the other panelists are in long-term recovery and agreed that there is no set amount of time that works for everybody.
“One of the most frustrating things about working in this field is the desire to boil it down to numbers and statists- it can’t be done,” said Matthews.
Each panelist offered their own paths to getting clean. For Matthews it was a trip to the emergency room after years of drug use; Marchetti was in seven different facilities before she got clean; Rodgers went to a recovery house for a year-and-a-half; and Moran found his faith and passion in a 12 Steps program.
“You can’t put a number on anything early on in recovery,” said Rodgers. “It depends on the journey they take, the services they’re provided and the resources that they’ve had whether in an in-patient or outpatient setting.”
For more information about the Heroin Task Force and local treatment/recovery options visit www.co.delaware.pa.us/heroin/index.html.