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Opioid Epidemic

The opioid epidemic affects sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, all races, colors, creeds and income levels.

Did you know that 13 Pennsylvanians died each day in 2016 of drug overdoses? According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), prescription or illegal opioids were linked to 85% of those deaths. That means overdose deaths are nearly 4 times the number of car accident deaths. Source: Analysis of Overdose Deaths in Pennsylvania

But some promising news is that treatment is available, and the use of Naxolone (Narcan®) is increasing. Naxolone is a drug that blocks the effects of opioids on the brain.  It can save a person from death.

Here is information and links to resources that can help you and your family deal with the opioid crisis.

What are opioids?

Opioids are a type of medicine or drug. A doctor can treat pain after an injury or surgery with opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and many others.  Heroin is another type of opioid that is not legal. It can be bought on the street. Abusing prescription drugs can lead to opioid addiction. Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Opioid addiction is when a person can’t stop taking opioids.

Using opioids excessively raises the risk of addiction. Opioid addiction is a disease. Like people with diseases, most people who are addicted to opioids need treatment to get better. Learn how to identify an overdose.

Treatment for drugs and alcohol can take many forms.

Centers of Excellence

Centers of Excellence (COEs), also referred to as health homes, coordinate care for people who have Medicaid. Treatment is team-based and focused on the “whole person” — with the main goal of combining behavioral health treatment with primary care. Patients of these centers:

  • Have an opioid use disorder.
  • May have co-occurring mental and physical health conditions.
  • Need help to navigate the care system.
  • Need guidance to stay engaged in treatment to avoid relapsing.

Find a COE

Mental health treatment

Mental health providers treat both drug and alcohol issues and other mental health issues. Sometimes, a person may need to see two different types of mental health providers to get the care they need.

Physical health treatment

Sometimes, the best place to turn to is your trusted doctor (your family doctor or primary care practitioner [PCP]). Doctors and their staff can put you in touch with the right resources. Some doctors can give you the medicine to begin the journey off opioids. These medicines can reduce withdrawal symptoms and relapse. This is called “medication-assisted treatment.”

Emergency

  • Call 911 immediately, then take action.
  • Learn about Naloxone.
    • Naloxone, also called Narcan, a brand name, is a medicine that can reverse an overdose. Most police and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) carry Naloxone.  Family and friends can also get Naloxone.
    • How to get Naloxone.

See the Pennsylvania government website for more information.

Prevention

Precautions with prescribed medicine

The path to addiction and overdose can begin with prescription medicine. Young people find leftover medicine in the house and take it just to see how it feels. So it is important to keep prescription drugs secure. You should get rid of leftover painkillers when you are finished taking them. This helps prevent the temptation for someone to experiment with them.

  • Do not share prescriptions with other people.
  • Keep your own prescriptions for pain medicine secure so others can’t get to them.
  • Properly dispose of unused or outdated medicine (both prescribed and over-the-counter).

Prescription drug take-back boxes

Prescription drug take-back boxes greatly reduce the amount of prescription drugs available for potential misuse and abuse. Locate a take-back box in your county: