Bucks Republicans Host Opioid Awareness Panel

Keri Marable , Centurion Staff

On Nov. 1, The Republican Club hosted an addiction crisis panel at the Zlock Performing Arts Center.
Members of the Republican Club brought two guest speakers to the Newtown Campus to raise awareness of the current addiction crisis in America.
Zach Shoester, a 19 year old political science major, is the President of the Republican Club.
The club was very motivated to bring this event to campus to ignite change with the current way society deals with addiction, “These people have a disease and shouldn’t be penalized as they are under our current system, they need help in rehabilitating themselves,” Shoester said.
Shoester spoke about what personally inspired him to host the panel, “Two of my aunts passed away because of their addiction, one due to heroin and another because of prescription opioids like OxyContin, that’s why this is such a big issue for me and I want to raise awareness,”
Shoester continued, “This epidemic has gripped Philadelphia, my hometown, and Bucks County for so long, most people don’t even know or try to do anything, and meanwhile kids are dying every day.”
Shoester believes the lack of awareness and stigma halts society from working on the opioid crisis.
“Not enough people recognize this issue, even our politicians don’t seem to realize the gravity of the issue. Also thanks to programs and pop culture there’s a stigma towards addicts as being irredeemable, criminal, and not able to be helped. When in reality these are people who made mistakes and need a little leg up to get the help they need.”
Shoester went on to explain that the current addiction crisis affects everyone, “This issue isn’t isolated to the city or poor areas of Bucks- it’s in schools. Rich areas in upper and central Bucks even have this going on, we need to get college students out helping to fix this issue because eventually we will all know a student or friend who’s been affected either directly or indirectly.”
Shoester emphasized that this panel goes beyond party lines, “this isn’t political. We just want to raise awareness of what’s going on in our community, how we currently combat the epidemic and what steps students can take to combat the issue because it all starts right here on a local scale.”
The second speaker at the panel was Morris Derey, Program Director and Mentoring Coordinator of No More Pain, Inc.
“The first time I spoke to Morris at his “Love for an Addict” event we spoke about a possible solution for the crisis to help battle addiction and it was a system almost like 302, when someone is deemed a danger to themselves or others and is institutionalized. I personally think this should be extended to addicts as well because these people are a danger to themselves,” said Shoester.
No More Pain, Inc. is a mentorship based program that assists at-risk adults who are battling with Homelessness, Substance Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Cancer.
Their mission statement on their Facebook age is “To bring education, awareness, understanding and a positive outlook on those who may need us”.
Some services offered by No More Pain are one on one mentoring and community service.
Derey says that their “only goal is to change lives by inspiring, motivating, encouraging and empowering others.” No More Pain, Inc. started as a vision in 1996 while Derey was incarcerated. It was established and recognized as a non-profit organization on Nov. 6, 2014.
Derey spoke of the importance of raising awareness of the opioid epidemic and addiction lies with the record breaking death counts, “people are dying and thousands of families are suffering.”
Derey says that the major obstacle is finding the right solutions that help people fight this disease- like getting people into outpatient programs that work with individuals coming out of treatment centers.
Derey urged students to come out to the spring panel, “College students are the future, they are the future politicians and lawmakers, it’s important for our future to find ways to end this epidemic today because tomorrow is too late.”