Let’s talk about the opioid crisis

Live program to air on WGBY, moderated by Eagle reporter

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SPRINGFIELD — Epidemic and crisis. Those are among the labels attached to opioid abuse, which has gripped people across the country.

Whether prescription painkillers or illegal narcotics, opioids have negatively affected thousands of local families. WGBY television, a PBS member station, is hosting a live broadcast to address the issue at 8 p.m. May 11. It features a panel of experts from Berkshire County and elsewhere in Western Massachusetts.

More than 1,400 residents died last year from accidental opioid overdose, according to the state Department of Public Health. And Massachusetts had the highest number of opioid-related emergency room visits among the 30 states included in a recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report.

The goal of The Opioid Crisis: A Community Dialogue, is to create a discussion forum for those concerned about, or struggling with opioid addiction.

In partnership with the Center for Human Development and The Berkshire Eagle, WGBY is facilitating the town hall-style discussion televised live before a studio audience. The hourlong program will be moderated by Eagle reporter Carrie Saldo and features a panel of six people connected to the opioid crisis. Discussion topics will include the science of addiction, the impacts of opioid abuse, treatment options, and the stigma and challenges associated with recovery.

In addition to questions from Saldo, the panel will also address questions from a live studio audience and social media.

Facebook and Twitter messages can be sent before, during and after the broadcast using the hashtag #wgbydialogue.

Panelists are:

- Jennifer Kimball, Berkshire Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative project coordinator

- Liz Whynott, Tapestry needle exchange program director. Tapestry runs exchanges in North Adams, Holyoke and Northampton

- Danyel Zerella, who is in recovery from heroin abuse at Grace House, a residential treatment center in Northampton

- Dr. Robert Roose, an expert on addiction and recovery with Providence Health Systems and a member of Gov. Charlie Baker's Opioid Addiction Work Group

- Anthony Gulluni, Hampden County District Attorney, who also helped to create the county's Addiction Task Force

- Chantal Silloway, adolescent recovery program director, Goodwin House in Northampton


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