The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed in November that more than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses around the country. Of those, 5,456 were in Pennsylvania, which accounted for the worst year on record. In Philadelphia alone, 1,217 people fell victim to drug overdose. On the heels of these numbers comes the announcement of the state’s participation in a 10-state-wide initiative based on former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to combat the opioid epidemic, with the commonwealth to receive the first $10 million of a $50 million fund to combat the crisis.
The deaths from opioids are largely fueled by an explosion of the presence of fentanyl in other drugs, including marijuana. Fentanyl is a highly addictive and concentrated form of opiate which contributed to over 84% of the overdose deaths in Philadelphia and 64% overall in the state’s recorded overdoses. The high numbers have, unfortunately, earned Philadelphia the title of worst overdose death rate of any major U.S. city. While the money has yet to be decisively allotted toward any particular use as of right now, it’s widely assumed that it will go into treatments that don’t involve risk reduction methods such as ‘safe consumption sites’, where addicts are supervised in their use. This is largely due to the fentanyl problem that the state is facing with distribution of street drugs. Instead, funding will likely go into treatment centers, prevention programs and medication that can save patients who are at risk of death or permanent injury due to overdose such as naloxone.
“We will take any funding, given the impact the crisis has had on our city,” said Alicia Taylor, a representative for the city’s health and human services department. The initiative was announced at the Bloomberg American Health Summit in Washington just prior to official announcement in Philadelphia. Bloomberg’s statements there were sobering.
“We are experiencing a national crisis. For the first time since World War I, life expectancy in the U.S. has declined over the past three years – and opioids are a big reason why. We cannot sit by and allow this alarming trend to continue – not when so many Americans are being killed in what should be the prime of their lives.”
Even with no official announcement of how the initiative will budget out the spending of the new funds, it does present a large and positive first step toward a solution to the epidemic. PA detox centers and drug rehab centers in PA like Philly Counseling Center could receive an influx in funding to increase capacity and effectiveness in addiction treatment in PA.
If you or someone you know might be suffering from addiction to opioids or other substances like alcohol, please contact Philly Counseling Center at 610-298-1999 for professional diagnosis and treatment options.