State lawmakers have begun a series of hearings throughout the commonwealth to learn more about what they and law enforcement officials call a heroin epidemic.
The state attorney general’s office says Pennsylvania has the third highest number of heroin users, behind California and Illinois, with an average 40,000 users.
Republican state Rep. Tim Krieger of Westmoreland County says, after listening to testimony in southwestern Pennsylvania about the causes of increased heroin use, he’s not looking for a single legislative remedy to the problem.
"There may be legislative things we can do and there probably are but it, by itself, it won’t solve the problem," he said. "It’s going to be all parts of our society working because there are aspects of this that cover anything from family problems to education problems."
The state’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs attributes part of the escalation of heroin use to the rise in prescriptions of opioid pain killers – drugs whose effects resemble morphine.
Lawmakers are considering expanding a prescription drug monitoring database to tamp down abuse of such drugs.