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Kenney Launches Task Force to Fight Opioid Crisis in Philadelphia

By Ali Gorman, R.N.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Mayor Jim Kenney launched his plan Wednesday to fight the opioid crisis in Philadelphia.

He’s calling on some of the top experts in the city to come up with a local solution to a nationwide problem.

The city projects more than 800 people died due to drug overdose in 2016. 80 percent involve opioids.

Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life are struggling with addiction.

The new city task force aims to help.

It brings leaders in the medical and mental health community, law enforcement, city leaders and others together to combat the problem.

27-year-old Andrew Meinster applauds the effort.

He’s now almost four years clean. Now addicted to working out, instead of drugs.

But his story is similar to thousands of others.

He started using prescription painkillers like Percocet casually then became dependent and says finding more pills was easy.

“It was very easy, just had to ask around, go into certain neighborhoods,” Meinster said.

Then when he couldn’t afford painkillers, he opted for something cheaper: heroin. And he was hooked.

Mayor Kenney says in order to prevent this cycle, doctors who are over-prescribing will be held accountable.

“That’s going to be a major effort on my part to expose these folks and stop them from doing this,” Kenney said.

The task force will also aim to educate the public that prescription drugs are addictive, and can be deadly.

It will also aim to increase treatment centers and boost the availability of Narcan, a medication used to reverse an overdose.

Meinster says he feels fortunate. He was able to overcome his addiction and he wants others to know it is possible.

“It starts with one day at a time, commit to yourself, to your own recovery and doing the next right thing. As you continue to do the next right thing, your life will get better,” Meinster said.

Meinster says Recovery Advocates was a key to his recovery.

The task force will meet every two weeks for the next three months then report recommendations to the mayor.

There will also be public forums where they want to hear your ideas and possible solutions:

Tues. January 31st
6:30-8p.m
Greater Philadelphia Health Action Inc. (GPHA)/350
1401S 31st Phila Pa 19146 (31st Reed Street)
Snow Date
Tues. February 7th
6:30-8p.m.

Thurs. February 2nd
6:30-8p.m
CORA/85-100
8540 Verree Rd, Philadelphia
Snow Date
Thurs. February 9th

6:30-8p.m.

Wed. January 25th
6:30-8p.m.
Prevention Point Philadelphia (PPP)/600
2913 Kensington Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19134
Snow Date
Wed. February 1st
6:30-8p.m.

Mon. January 23rd
6:30-8
Resources for Human Development (RHD)/ 100
4700 Wissahickon Ave, Suite 126 Philadelphia, PA 19144
Snow Date
Mon. January 30th
6:30-8p.m.

For more on Recovery Advocates, click here.