Epidemic In Our Backyard

Hitting Home: Women • Families • Opioids
A WQED Community Forum

WQED continued its focus on opioid addiction in the region with a live town hall meeting exploring how addiction among women is breaking the family bond and changing the fabric of society.

Hitting Home: Women • Families • Opioids - A WQED Community Forum aired Thursday, March 8 at 8pm on WQED-TV and online.

Host Lisa Washington moderates a panel discussion with experts on the front lines of the crisis locally. The community forum included scenes from WQED’s recent documentary Broken: Women • Families • Opioids.

Panelists for the town hall meeting include:

  • Cheryl Andrews, Executive Director, Washington County Drug and Alcohol Commission
  • Deborah McDonald, Director of Women's Health Programs, Allegheny Health Network
  • Thelma Turner, Care Navigator, Centers for Excellence

Hitting Home: Women • Families • Opioids - A WQED Community Forum is made possible by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Broken: Women • Families • Opioids was recently honored with the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters Award in the category of Outstanding Public Affairs Program. The documentary originally aired in November 2017 and explored the rise in women's addiction rates, and the subsequent impact on families and society.

The heroin and opioids epidemic has been building for years, stemming from the over-prescription of opioid drugs used to treat pain. While coroners and medical examiners across Pennsylvania have been compiling grim statistics at an unprecedented rate, a major collaboration is underway to combat this public health crisis, with state lawmakers, law enforcement, medical professionals and advocates joining forces. WQED Multimedia takes an in-depth, multiplatform look at the crisis in Western Pennsylvania. Our project includes two televised documentaries, digital first content, town hall meetings and social media outreach.


"Broken: Women - Families - Opioids"
A WQED Documentary

Opioid addiction is destructive across all demographics. But compared to men, women’s addiction can have more devastating implications. Some children are born addicted, while others face uncertain futures because of addicted mothers. Many children are placed in foster care, but an increasing number are being raised by extended family – further disrupting lives. We explore how opioid addiction among women is breaking the family bond and changing the fabric of society.

"Hope After Heroin: The Epidemic in our Backyard"
A WQED Documentary

This program explores the opioid crisis in Western Pennsylvania on a broader level - with a focus on how over-prescription of opioid drugs led to today's epidemic. People who have experienced addiction, either themselves or through a loved one, share their stories of struggle, stigma and loss. But they also show how they've managed to use their pain as a catalyst for change, providing hope for others.

Community Engagement

"Hope After Heroin: Fighting The Epidemic"
A Community Forum

WQED's Fred Rogers Studio hosted a standing room only crowd - with attendees from just about every county in Western Pennsylvania. They gathered to learn more about opioid crisis, while expressing their concerns and sharing resources. Moderator Chris Moore led the discussion exploring the issues directly affecting Western Pennsylvania, the ongoing efforts to deal with the crisis, as well as current initiatives.

"Hope After Heroin: A Community Project"
A WQED Digital-First Production

WQED Multimedia takes an in-depth, multi-platform look at the heroin crisis in Western Pennsylvania. The project includes a full-lengthy documentary, town hall meeting/community forum, direct-to-web videos. An educational component will target students in schools throughout Western Pennsylvania.

Digital First Content



With the rise in heroin addiction among women, doctors are looking for new ways to help the most vulnerable among that group. West Penn Hospital provides a program where pregnant addicts can receive obstetrical care, drug treatment and counseling all in one appointment.


While opioid addiction is increasing among women, there are studies that suggest women have a better chance of long term recovery than men. This short video brings you the stories of seven women who were lost in addiction, but have launched successful new lives. Find out what made a difference.


Dr. Neil Capretto, medical director at Gateway Rehab, explains the signs of addiction.


Dr. Neil Capretto, medical director at Gateway Rehab, explains what do do if you suspect drug abuse.


Dr. Neil Capretto, medical director at Gateway Rehab, explains how Narcan works.


WQED rides along with the Pitcairn Police Department, the first in Western Pennsylvania to carry and administer the drug which counteracts the effects of a heroin overdose. They share their thoughts in this short video. 

Hitting Home: Women • Families • Opioids - A WQED Community Forum
March 8, 2018  -  Photos from an engaging discussion at WQED's Fred Rogers Studio

Host Lisa Washington

Host Lisa Washington begins the community forum.

Host Lisa Washington, Panelists Cheryl Andrews, Deborah McDonald, and Thelma Turner.

Hitting Home Studio Audience

Hitting Home Studio Audience

Host Minette Seate (Right) with attendee Alison Wardrop

Host Minette Seate interviews Gina Noelle-Brown, Drug and Alcohol Counselor and Case Manager, Holy Family Institute.

Host Minette Seate interviews Whitney Menarcheck, Director of Substance Use Programs at the Allegheny County Jail

Producer Beth Dolinar and videographer Paul Ruggieri interview therapist Lizzie Anderson after the forum. (Photo courtesy David Solomon).

Host Minette Seate with Kim Rogers, Executive Director, Washington County CYS.

Hosts Minette Seate (Left) and Lisa Washington with Highmark Health's Dr. Caesar DeLeo.

Neil Parham, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Community Affairs.

Thelma Turner, Cheryl Andrews, Deborah McDonald, Lisa Washington, Minette Seate.

1 2 3

WQED is proud to partner with Pennsylvania's public broadcasters - combining resources to raise awareness about the opioids crisis.


The Pennsylvania Opiods Data Dashboard

What is Act 139 and how did it change laws regarding Naloxone?

Get answers to frequently-asked questions about Naloxone.

Learn more about Pennsylvania’s Opioid Prescribing Guidelines.

Review Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s list of opioid treatment Centers of Excellence.

You can find additional coverage of the region’s heroin epidemic through our media partner, PublicSource, in their series, Riding the Rush.


This project is made possible by


ARADThe Pittsburgh Foundation

with additional support from

The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County

Projects like these are made possible through the generous support of WQED members.

Become a member now