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Wolf hails new program in opioid treatment

In 2015, 3,500 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses, the governor said. He said it looks like the toll in 2016 was even higher.

Gov. Wolf
Gov. WolfRead moreMATT ROURKE / AP

HARRISBURG — Gov. Wolf on Wednesday joined Clarion University officials to announce the launch of an online certificate program in opioid treatment, which they said is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania.

"Education is a powerful thing," Wolf said at a news conference at the Capitol. "Armed with facts, health-care providers, drug counselors, EMTs, school counselors, therapists, anyone interested in learning more will be able to take this online course."

In 2015, 3,500 Pennsylvanians died of drug overdoses, Wolf said. He said it appears that the toll in 2016 was even higher.

Clarion president Karen Whitney said society was being overwhelmed by the problem.

"We wanted to provide a very direct and immediate way to be of help," she said.

The four-course program is open to anyone, and the certificate can be earned in one academic year. The courses address topics such as prevention and treatment, as well as advocacy and public policy.

Clarion, in Western Pennsylvania, is one of 14 universities in the State System of Higher Education.