Ryan Schweiger, CRS, CPS, CPRP, St. Luke’s Penn Foundation (SLPF) behavioral health community liaison specialist, has been named by Bucks County Commissioner Bob Harvie to the seven-person Bucks County Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee. Commissioner Harvie selected members of the Bucks County community who have backgrounds in human services, substance abuse prevention, and public safety.
Starting in June, the county expects to receive $44 million in opioid settlement funds over 18 years as the result of a lawsuit against manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and distributors, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, of prescription opioids. Calling on his vast personal and professional experiences with addiction, Schweiger will make recommendations to the County on how to most effectively use these funds.
“I am honored to have been selected to serve on the Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee,” says 38-year-old Schweiger, an employee of SLPF since 2013 and an individual in recovery for 13 years. “As someone with lived experience with addiction as well as a professional in the field, I look forward to contributing my expertise from both perspectives to help develop effective, recovery-focused solutions that address the opioid epidemic.”
In his current role with SLPF, Schweiger works closely with schools, community groups and others to provide education about addiction, including information about treatment options and available community resources. His message is one of hope, that “recovery is possible.” And he is passionate about spreading this message even further.
There’s a long road ahead to stem this deadly local and national trend that continues to worsen. Schweiger says that in 2021 alone, the U.S. saw more than 105,000 opioid-related deaths, up by more than 10,000 from the previous year.
With Pennsylvania having one of the highest death rates from opioid abuse, including accidental fatalities from Fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills, and Bucks County having the third highest overdose rate of all Pennsylvania counties, Schweiger is looking forward to working with the committee to “increase access to care, develop innovative treatment models, implement supports for individuals in recovery, expand prevention education, and reduce stigma.”
Amy Maurizio, MS, MBA, St. Luke’s director of operations for substance use disorder and recovery services, says Schweiger’s appointment to the committee is critical.
“Ryan is the only member of the committee representing a treatment provider organization,” she says. “He understands what is needed and is ‘boots on the ground every day’ in schools, at community events, and in supporting people in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He can be a much-needed voice for this population.”