NEPA Scene Staff

Pa. Pain and Addiction Summit addresses opioid epidemic in Wilkes-Barre with NY Mets’ Dwight ‘Doc’ Gooden on April 20

Pa. Pain and Addiction Summit addresses opioid epidemic in Wilkes-Barre with NY Mets’ Dwight ‘Doc’ Gooden on April 20
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

From a press release:

Leaders at the forefront of battling the opioid crisis will present at Wilkes University’s Pennsylvania Pain and Addiction Summit at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre on Friday, April 20. New York Mets All-Star pitcher Dwight “Doc” Gooden will deliver the keynote address, detailing his road from addiction to recovery.

During the full-day conference, medical, legal, and law enforcement professionals will discuss the current state of the opioid crisis, share methods in dealing with these issues, and identify opportunities to treat pain and substance abuse. Continuing education hours are available for counselors, dentists, pharmacists, physical therapists, physicians, nurses, and social workers.

Gooden pitched 16 seasons in Major League Baseball, most notably for the New York Mets. His rookie year was highlighted by 276 strikeouts. Fans dubbed him “Doctor K” or “Doc” and he went on to earn the first of four All-Star selections, win the National League Rookie of the Year Award, and lead the league in strikeouts. The following season, he helped the Mets win the 1986 World Series.

Though he remained a notable pitcher, Gooden faced well-chronicled challenges due to drug and alcohol use. In the late 2000s, he entered a recovery program and wrote a book in 2013, “Doc,” a memoir detailing the addiction and recovery of one of the greatest pitchers of all time.

Additional presenters include Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky, Jr., Luzerne County Treatment Court; Lt. Michael T. Carroll, Pennsylvania state police; Fire Chief James Jay Delaney, Wilkes-Barre fire department; Steven Ross, drug and alcohol program administrator for Luzerne/Wyoming Counties; Thomas Franko, assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Wilkes University; Dave Withers, physician at Geisinger Health; Eugene Lucas, assistant professor of nursing at Wilkes University and family nurse practitioner; and Michelle Kwiec, social work and certified alcohol and drug counselor.

Jake Nichols, a pharmacist who specializes in the treatment of substance abuse as a result of his own longterm recovery, will provide the closing address at 3 p.m.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, “overdose deaths, particularly from prescription drugs and heroin, have reached epidemic levels, now making drug overdoses the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.” Locally, overdose deaths in Luzerne County have increased annually, with deaths at an all-time high of 155 in 2017.

Registration and breakfast is at 7 a.m., and breakout sessions begin at 8 a.m. A reception featuring poster presentations by area college students in health fields will occur at 4 p.m.

The cost to attend the full-day program is $150. Half-day participation is $75 and does not include lunch.

Attendees can view a detailed schedule and register online at For more information, contact Margaret Petty, director of the Center for Continued Learning, at 570-408-4460 or

Wilkes University (84 W. South St., Wilkes-Barre) is an independent institution of higher education dedicated to academic and intellectual excellence through mentoring in the liberal arts, sciences, and professional programs. Founded in 1933, the university is on a mission to create one of the great small universities, offering all of the programs, activities, and opportunities of a large research university in the intimate, caring, and mentoring environment of a small liberal arts college, at a cost that is increasingly competitive with public universities. The Economist named Wilkes 25th in the nation for the value of its education for graduates.

In addition to 43 bachelor’s degree programs, Wilkes offers 25 master’s degree programs and four doctoral/terminal degree programs, including the doctor of philosophy in nursing, doctor of nursing practice, doctor of education, doctor of pharmacy, and master of fine arts in creative writing.

See the local documentary “Opioid Nation: The Making of an Epidemic” for free here and watch or listen to Scranton filmmaker Kenny Luck talk about this short film and the drug epidemic in Northeastern Pennsylvania in Episode 29 of the NEPA Scene Podcast: