Opioid Coalition Seeks to Curb Substance Abuse and Deaths

Dr. Muhamad Aly Rifai presents to the Columbia Montour Opioid Coalition on Aug. 16.

Representatives from local human service agencies, law enforcement, the medical community, and The Chamber are meeting regularly to reduce opioid abuse and related deaths in the area. Attention is being paid to multiple areas including education, enforcement, and treatment. The Chamber is involved due to the growing issue of substance abuse within the workforce.

On Wednesday, Aug. 16, Dr. Muhamad Aly Rifai, Medical Director for the Lehigh County Center for Recovery, provided an overview to coalition members of the physiology of substance abuse, and current treatment practices. Research shows that certain people are more susceptible to substance addiction. As this research progresses, he believes widespread testing could be available in about five years.

Treating substance abuse is not a “one-size fits all” approach, according to Rifai. Studies indicate that a longer-term treatment plan that includes medicine significantly reduces the likelihood of relapse. The specific medicines used in treatment as well as the length of time of treatment vary. He does not believe that someone in recovery needs to stay on medication for the rest of their life.

The Columbia Montour Opioid Coalition is being coordinated by the United Way of Columbia and Montour County. For more information or to get involved with the Coalition, contact Adrienne Mael at the United Way at 570-784-3134 or email.