Pennsylvania Opioid Epidemic Update | Banyan Treatment Center

Pennsylvania Opioid Epidemic Update

opioid epidemic in pennsylvania

You may have heard in the news about the United States experiencing an opioid epidemic, but what about the state of Pennsylvania itself?

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 to 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, synthetic opioids, and prescription pain killers like morphine or codeine. Although heroin and synthetic opioids are illegal in the United States, people have long been abusing these drugs. More recently, there has also been a trend towards abuse and addiction of prescription pain pills as well leading to a nationwide opioid epidemic.

If you or a loved one is struggling with these drugs, get help immediately with our prescription pain pill and heroin treatment in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania Opioid Abuse Statistics

Unfortunately, the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania is just as bad if not worse than the state of the nation as a whole. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the opioid-related overdose rate in the United States 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 led to the state having a higher number of overdose deaths because of opioids than the national average. Another source found that from January 1, 2018 to June 8, 2019, there were 13,499 emergency room visits from opioid overdoses in the state of Pennsylvania.2 These numbers equate to almost 800 people a month dying from opioid overdoses.

Another problem with the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania is the number of painkiller prescriptions written. In 2017, there were 57.7 opioid prescriptions written for every 100 persons in the state; this number is just below the national average of 58.7, but luckily, these numbers have been decreasing slowly since peaking in 2012.1

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

The Opioid Epidemic in Philadelphia

The Pennsylvania opioid epidemic is scary but, opioid abuse in Philadelphia is particularly alarming compared to the rest of the state. It is estimated that the number of drug overdose deaths in Philadelphia increased by half from 2013 to 2015 with 80% of those deaths involving opioids.4 Philadelphia County also had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in 2017 with 2,266 deaths; the next closest county was Alleghany with just over half the amount of deaths.2

It isn’t just prescription pain pills that are the cause. The Heroin Domestic Monitor Program found that from 1999 to 2016, the heroin found in Philadelphia consistently 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 is no wonder that heroin use in Philadelphia is so high. In fact, the amount of heroin seized in Philadelphia County and Alleghany County in 2017 was almost half of total heroin that was seized in the state with Philadelphia County alone accounting for 32%.5

What Are We Doing About the Pennsylvania Opioid Epidemic?

These drastic increases are prompting changes in policy throughout the state to combat these high numbers. One such example is Pennsylvania’s Drug Monitoring Program. This program gathers information about filled prescriptions for controlled substances in order 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. Narcan use and education in Philadelphia especially is also rising as officials hope to reduce the number of overdoses.

Don’t be one of these statistics; if you or your loved one is abusing opioids, get help with our opiate addiction treatment in PA sooner rather than later.

If you or a loved one are looking for addiction help in Philadelphia, we are here to guide you through the process. Our various levels of care and unique therapies are designed with your long-term success and sobriety in mind.

Call us at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our addiction treatment in Philadelphia and begin your path to sobriety today.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse – Pennsylvania Quick Facts
  2. opendataPA - Opioid-Related Overdose Death
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Drug Overdose Deaths
  4. Philadelphia Department of Public Health-Health Information Portal – Opioid Overdose
  5. DEA – The Opioid Threat in Pennsylvania
Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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