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WQED, additional state public broadcasters, address opioid crisis |

WQED, additional state public broadcasters, address opioid crisis

Mary Pickels
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
During this 2016 event at Saint Vincent College, Westmoreland County Detective Tony Marcocci shows Governor Tom Wolf stamp bags during a roundtable with state and local elected officials, law enforcement, health professionals, and advocates to discuss Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis.

In recognition of the public crisis the opioid and heroin epidemic represents, WQED Multimedia is joining six Pennsylvania public broadcasting affiliates at 9 p.m. March 29 to air programs providing information and resources.

All seven stations will air “Broken: Women • Families • Opioids,” a new documentary making the argument that opioid addiction among women has implications which go far beyond the addict, infecting the entire family, especially children, according to a news release.

The documentary won this year’s Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters Award for excellence in the category of Outstanding Public Affairs Program.

It introduces children who are born addicted, while others are removed from their homes and placed in foster care or in the care of an extended family member.

In January, Gov. Tom Wolf issued a disaster declaration for Pennsylvania’s “heroin and opioid epidemic.”

In a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, in the 12 months ending in July, 2017, the number of drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania was 5,443, an increase of 43.4 percent from the 3,797 that occurred in the previous 12-month period, the release notes.

In addition to the multi-station broadcast, many of Pennsylvania’s Public Television stations will schedule related programming including “Hooked Rx: From Prescription to Addiction, “Understanding the Opioid Epidemic,” and “Frontline: Chasing Heroin.”

The stations also are committing resources to produce a year-long quarterly series called “Battling Opioids,” focusing on solutions, and providing help and resources for addicts and their families.

In September, Pennsylvania’s Public Television stations will devote an entire week of primetime programming to focus on the commonwealth’s opioid crisis. The centerpiece will be a single, statewide broadcast featuring medical, social service, and clerical professionals along with recovering addicts and their families discussing solutions for Pennsylvania’s opioid addiction. Viewers will be able to call in to ask questions, get answers and get connected to help.

In the last 10 years, WQED Multimedia has produced 15 documentaries and online segments pertaining to addiction that are available at

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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