Local TV special will delve into opioids in Western Pennsylvania
A former WPXI news producer, Sydni Goldman is deeply familiar with the heavy toll the opioid epidemic has taken on Western Pennsylvania.
“I remember when fentanyl started coming in, and when that was really hitting the area hard,” Goldman said. “It’s still such a big topic that affects so many people.”
With that in mind, Goldman wanted to focus on the opioid epidemic while helping develop a summer series in her current job at Cornerstone Television Network.
“We wanted to create a program that can provide some support and hope for families who are dealing with it,” Goldman said.
“Real Answers: Opioid Addiction” will premiere at 8 p.m. July 20 on Cornerstone.
“Pennsylvania is in crisis; so many people are dying due to overdose. Now more than ever, we need to be talking about addiction and how the loved ones of those afflicted can help save their families,” said Don Black, president and CEO at Cornerstone, which is based in Wall, near Trafford.
Pennsylvania had the nation’s fourth-highest rate of drug overdose deaths in 2016, acorrding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the United States, the overdose mortality rate has risen 21.5 percent from 2015 to 2016, with the numbers steadily climbing.
In Westmoreland County, 2017 marked nine straight years in which the number of deaths from overdose continuously rose.
The television special comes on the heels of a University of Pittsburgh study that discovered as many as 70,000 opioid-related deaths nationwide went unreported between 1999 and 2015 because of incomplete death certificate reporting by coroners and medical examiners.
Goldman emphasized addiction doesn’t only impact the addict; it impacts his or her family, as well.
“Sometimes, families can enable their loved ones without even realizing they’re doing it,” she said.
A panel of guests will discuss different aspects of the epidemic, including Pittsburgh-area Pastor J. Anthony Gilbert, who has a background in drug counseling; Bridge City Church North Braddock Campus Pastor Dan Perkins, who struggled with addiction issues when he was younger; and Brenda Goldman, founder of The Ambassador Program, a nonprofit in central Pennsylvania that provides free services to people and families struggling with addiction.
The panel will tackle topics including the signs of addiction, varieties of treatment plans and how families can offer support when a loved one is struggling with addiction issues.
“We’ll also touch on relapse issues, and we’ll do a live call-in segment for people to ask questions,” Goldman said. “It’s really an interactive show, but our hope is to provide a voice for this and point people to some solutions.”
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.