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Pennsylvania Opioid Epidemic Update

opioid epidemic in pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Opioid Epidemic Update

You may have heard in the news about the United States experiencing an opioid epidemic -- but what about the state of Pennsylvania itself? Is there any Pennsylvania opioid epidemic update that addresses the ongoing problems?

How does Pennsylvania compare to the rest of the nation? What about the city of Philadelphia? Just how bad is opioid abuse in Pennsylvania? Does it qualify as a Pennsylvania opioid epidemic, and what can we do about it? At Banyan Philadelphia, we are diving into the Pennsylvania opioid statistics to answer these questions and talk about what these numbers mean for the future of the Keystone State.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin and prescription painkillers, like morphine or codeine. Although heroin and synthetic opioids are illegal in the U.S., opioid abuse continues to be a growing problem. In fact, the growing number of opioid-related overdoses, deaths, and general cases of abuse has led to a nationwide opioid epidemic. Individuals who are struggling with this form of addiction can receive safe and effective care with our prescription pill or heroin addiction treatment in Philadelphia. 

Pennsylvania Opioid Abuse Statistics

Unfortunately, when compared to the nation as a whole, the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania is more than harrowing. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the opioid-related overdose rate in the U.S. is 13.3 deaths per 100,000 people. But in Pennsylvania, the opioid overdose rate is 18.5 deaths per 100,000 people.1 These numbers show that Pennsylvania opioid abuse has resulted in a higher number of overdose deaths than the national average. Another source found that from January 1, 2018, to June 8, 2019, there were 13,499 emergency room visits related to opioid overdoses in the state of Pennsylvania.2 These numbers equate to almost 800 people suffering from opioid overdoses per month.

Another problem with the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania is the number of painkiller prescriptions that are being written out by doctors. In 2017, there were 57.7 opioid prescriptions written for every 100 people in the state; this number is just below the national average of 58.7.1

In addition to opioid-related overdoses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention actually lists Pennsylvania as the state with the third-highest rates of drug overdose deaths (after West Virginia and Ohio) at 44.3 per 100,000 people with a 16.9% increase from 2016 to 2017 alone.3 As a drug and alcohol rehab center in Philadelphia, these numbers are especially concerning.

A Closer Look at the Opioid Epidemic in Philadelphia

This Pennsylvania opioid epidemic update is scary, but opioid abuse in Philadelphia is particularly alarming compared to the rest of the state. It’s estimated that the number of drug overdose deaths in Philadelphia increased by half from 2013 to 2015, with 80 percent of them being opioid-related.4 Philadelphia County also had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in 2017, at 2,266 deaths.2

Prescription opiates aren’t the only contributing forces to this issue. The Heroin Domestic Monitor Program found that from 1999 to 2016, the heroin in Philadelphia had the highest purity levels and was the cheapest in price compared to all of the other markets.5 With such a pure drug for such a cheap price, it’s no wonder that heroin use in Philadelphia is so high. In fact, the amount of heroin seized in Philadelphia County and Allegheny County in 2017 was almost half of the total that was seized in the state, with Philadelphia County alone accounting for 32%.5

At our rehab facility, we also offer an opiate addiction treatment that covers different forms of opioid abuse and covers the specific facets of this form of substance abuse.  

Update on the Pennsylvania Opioid Epidemic

These drastic increases are prompting changes in policy throughout the state to combat this growing problem. An example of these changes is Pennsylvania’s Drug Monitoring Program. This program gathers information about filled prescriptions for controlled substances to better monitor the prescription histories of patients. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has implemented a patient non-opioid directive that allows patients to formally state that they do not want to receive opioid medication. This department has also adopted new guidelines for medical specialties on the safe prescription of painkillers. Education on Narcan in Philadelphia is also being incorporated into schools and other resources as officials work to reduce the number of overdoses.

Don’t be another statistic. If you or a loved one is looking for addiction help in Philadelphia, we are here to guide you through the process. Call Banyan Treatment Centers Philadelphia now at 888-280-4763 to learn how we can help you begin your path to sobriety today.

  1. NIH- Pennsylvania: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms
  2. opendataPA- Pennsylvania Quick Stats
  3. CDC- Drug Overdose Deaths
  4. Philadelphia Department of Public Health- Opioid Overdoses
  5. DEA- The Opioid Threat in Pennsylvania 

Related Readings: Are Prescription Opiates as Addictive as Heroin? America’s First Opioid Crisis
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.