The Philadelphia Inquirer published an opinion piece by Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub Thursday afternoon. In what reads like an open letter to Bucks residents, the DA makes an effort to convince people conditions are improving in the battle against a widespread opioid epidemic.

A snapshot of an interactive map showing each opioid-related death in Bucks County within the last 12 months. Snapshot taken on May 30, 2019. Map via Bucks DA.

For families who have lost loved ones, or those caught up in alleged fraudulent schemes designed for exploitation, the effects of this crisis are scarring.

As an interactive map details, Lower Bucks County has been hit especially hard. Bensalem, Bristol Township, Bristol Borough, Lower Southampton, and all of Levittown are scoured with green dots. And each dot represents a life either taken or narrowly saved.

“Despite these statistics, I am encouraged.”

As Weintraub writes, the past year has possibly brought a turning point. And data indicates he may be right.

Large opioid rings located right next peoples’ homes have come crashing down. Millions of dollars in heroin and elaborate plots to use prescription medications in the trash have come out of the woodwork, and into public light.

From 2015 to 2017, opioid deaths increased in Pennsylvania 65 percent. But last year, for first time since the crisis began, overdose deaths fell.

A box of Narcan nasal spray.

“We cannot arrest our way out of this crisis.”

Weintraub is continuing to advocate for the widespread distribution of Narcan, the life-saving overdose-reversal drug. Instead of prosecuting overdose victims, Weintraub wants to take other approaches.

While some have criticized Narcan distribution for reasons including cost and allegations of enabling, Weintraub is not convinced.

“I think that’s wrong-headed, short-sighted, and stupid,” Weintraub told WBCB last December. “The only thing Narcan enables people to do is to live.”

Governor Tom Wolf seems to have a similar stance. The statewide “Stop Overdoses in PA: Get Help Now Week” initiative brought hundreds of Naloxone doses to Bucks County on Dec. 13, 2018. Bucks residents picked up 472 kits, and each dose is a potential life.

Weintraub concluded his letter by stating he hopes there will be no need for an opioid crisis update in five years.