Bucks commissioner: Heroin is No. 1 problem

Posted: February 28, 2014

BUCKS COUNTY - The most important issue facing Bucks County isn't economic development, the expensive new Justice Center, or any of the other items regularly discussed at county meetings, according to Commissioner Diane Marseglia.

It's heroin abuse.

Marseglia made that case at a breakfast Wednesday at Bucks County Community College hosted by the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce.

Citing statistics and friends who died from the drug, Marseglia, a former social worker, described the growth of heroin in Bucks County in stark terms.

"This is of epidemic proportions," she said.

More than 60 percent of admissions to county treatment centers relate to heroin and opiate use, she said. Last September, she said, 63 people in Bensalem overdosed on heroin - one fatally. And about half of the drug deaths in the county stem from heroin abuse, she said.

Heroin has been in the news with the death of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman of an apparent overdose and the capture of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, accused head of Mexico's largest cartel.

But officials here have been noting its rise and combatting its growth.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said last summer that the drug had made a "strong comeback" in recent years, citing 52 heroin-related deaths in the county in 2012. And the General Assembly is considering at least a half-dozen bills drafted to address the heroin and prescription drug problem, including one from State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R, Bucks).

Marseglia urged those at the breakfast to recognize the problem of drug use, and suggested a number of ways to help - such as donating to treatment centers or raising awareness about the importance of guidance counselors in schools, as they can be the first line of defense in noticing drug use.


cpalmer@phillynews.com

609-217-8305 @cs_palmer

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