pennsylvania drug abuse
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Pennsylvania Addresses Drug Abuse Challenges

Pennsylvania governor Governor Tom Corbett made headlines at the University of Pittsburgh recently, signing into law a multitude of treatment solutions for addiction issues in Pennsylvania. He was responding not only to the massive drug issues that his state is faced with, but also to the recommendations of a study group that reveals just how deep Pennsylvania has fallen into addiction.

Pennsylvania: Addiction Problems & Treatment Solutions

Last May, Governor Corbett formed The Heroin and Other Opioids Workgroup to study Pennsylvania’s addiction problems. They’ve recently released a report, and another report by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania has also just been released. They both show the depth of the problem: how so many addicts can’t find a drug rehab, how so many die, and how so many of them are young. And both make recommendations for treatment solutions that can solve this problem.

What the Reports Show: Addiction Problems

  • Overdoses from heroin and other opiates (painkillers) increased by 470% over the past 20 years
  • In only the past 5 years, there have been over 3,000 deaths from overdoses
  • From 2009 – 2013, there were 3,000 deaths from heroin overdoses
  • Among ages 20-44, overdoses kill more people than car crashes
  • Each year, 34,000 drug users ages 12-17 try heroin due to the increased price of painkillers
  • 80% of heroin addicts first got addicted by using painkillers
  • Heroin is more available to PA’s underage population than alcohol
  • 1 in 8 residents in PA are in need of addiction treatment
  • Recently, addiction treatment has been cut by 45% but the need for it has grown by 400%
  • While 52,150 addicts are treated, 760,703 do not find a drug rehab

What the Reports Recommend: Treatment Solutions

Preventing Addiction

  • Fully implementing the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to prevent drug diversion
  • Establish and enforce prescription drug prescribing guidelines
  • Reduce insurance incentives for longer prescriptions
  • Education & public outreach on addiction and substance abuse issues

Addressing Addiction

  • Drug courts and similar diversion programs
  • Statewide research on overdoses and drug trafficking
  • More funding and staff for law enforcement task forces
  • Police and first-responder access to naloxone, a narcotic overdose antidote
  • “Good Samaritan Law”, protecting 911 callers of overdoses from legal punishment

Treating Addiction

  • Public-private partnerships to increase access to drug addiction services
  • Reduce insurance barriers to help addicts find a drug rehab
  • Expanding healthcare coverage for treatment solutions
  • Increased funding for drug rehabs

Pennsylvania Looks to the Future…

Not everything that has been recommended or signed into law in Pennsylvania are exactly addiction treatment solutions. However, they are drug addiction services that point addicts in the direction toward getting drug rehab help they need. The increased funding and increased access to treatment centers would all be for naught if addicts continue to die on the streets. With tools like naloxone, the “Good Samaritan Law,” and more research, more addicts can survive addiction rather than die from it. Every second they live is a second they are still able to find a drug rehab to get the help they need.