Wyoming County fighting back against drug epidemic

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TUNKHANNOCK, WYOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Wyoming County is getting a huge help in the fight against the drug epidemic. Over the next three years, more than a half-million dollars will go towards curbing the habit.

Tunkhannock is in the heart of Wyoming County. East access to Wilkes-Barre down Route 29 and Route 6 to Scranton. In the past 10 years, the county has seen an uptick in drug overdoses, abuse, and people going in and out of jail.

“They’re chasing that high. They’re chasing that fix but for some people, they reach that point where they do want help and they need help in order to get help,” Wyoming County District Attorney Jeff Mitchell said.

Mitchell received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to combat addiction and mental health within the county.

“It’s going to go towards primarily salaries for new positions as well as to pay for treatment,” Mitchell said.

By the end of the year, the county could implement easier access to treatment and enhance its police program to offer help to those struggling instead of arresting individuals and incarcerating them.

“Our goal is to reduce the amount of time that it takes for people to get help and then increase the amount of services they can receive,” Michael Donahue, executive director of Wyoming County Human Services, said.

Donahue says the need in his department is increasing exponentially. Donahue says the opioid crisis affects one in four families.

“No one is not impacted by this and our community is suffering because of it,” Donahue said.

In the next three years, Wyoming County looks to reduce drug abuse and overdose fatalities.

“Unfortunately with the county our size, you don’t always have the resources to make that happen. With the grant this size, we believe it can definitely make an impact,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell tells Eyewitness News overdoses and overdose deaths have slightly decreased this year compared to previous years.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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