Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, in particular, have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic.
While Pittsburgh’s drug overdose deaths have dropped dramatically in the past few years, Philadelphia is still struggling to see much improvement. In 2017, Philadelphia had the highest rate of overdose deaths that year among counties in the United States with over 1 million residents.1 With such poor numbers, the Philadelphia District Attorney‘s office is taking a new approach.
Possession of Buprenorphine Now Okay in Philadelphia
In order to try and decrease the number of opioid-addicted people, Philadelphia has decided to stop persecuting people for possession of the addiction treatment drug buprenorphine, also known by the brand name Suboxone. Buprenorphine is a drug that is often used in some PA drug rehab centers
to treat an opioid addiction because it can help suppress symptoms of opioid withdrawal and reduce cravings. Unfortunately, if abused, this drug can also be addictive.
While some addicts may be addicted to buprenorphine, research suggests that this is usually not the case. Most people who are buying this drug off the street are doing so to try and prevent overdose and withdrawal as well as possibly try to wean themselves safely off of the drug on their own. Buying buprenorphine illegally may be easier and less expensive for some people then trying to go to a doctor or enter treatment and get a prescription that may not be covered by insurance. Instead of punishing these people, the Philadelphia District Attorney‘s office has decided to let it go in the hope that the numbers related to the opioid epidemic
in the city will improve. This push goes along with another campaign that was recently launched in the city to distribute buprenorphine from mobile treatment centers with doctors who could prescribe the drug to people right then and there.
Chittenden County, Vermont, took a similar approach and took steps to make buprenorphine more easily accessible along with some other policy changes. The result was a 50% decrease in the number of overdose deaths from year to year.2
While this cannot be attributed solely to buprenorphine, it looks like this drug was a contributing factor. The Burlington Police Chief in Vermont also says, “The research shows that taking non-prescribed buprenorphine predicts an increased eventual desire to enter into formal treatment.”2
Philadelphia hopes that by mimicking what Chittenden County did and making the possession of the addiction treatment drug okay, they too will see a drastic improvement in their overdose rate as well as a decrease in the number of people in the county addicted to opioids.
If you or someone you love is addicted to opioids and ready to get help, let us guide you. Our Philadelphia opioid addiction treatment
is here to help people stop their abuse for good.
To learn more about Banyan Philadelphia and our various programs, reach out to one of our admission specialists today at 888-280-4763.
Sources & References:
- PEW - Philadelphia Research and Policy Initiative
- VPR - Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger On Drop In Opioid Deaths