Are Opioids Affecting Pennsylvania like Other States?
Within the state of Pennsylvania, there is high availability and demand for illicit and prescription opioids. The heroin being abused in the state is sourced from Mexico and is a threat to the state. The threat of heroin in the state is exacerbated by the production of non-pharmaceutical fentanyl and substances related to fentanyl. In fact, heroin and fentanyl are impacting more than 97% of the counties throughout the state. The state of Pennsylvania did incorporate legislation to monitor opioid prescribing, which has led to a decreased availability in opioids. In 2017 there were 5,456 drug-related overdose deaths, and this is a rate of 43 deaths per 100,000 population.
The increased availability of fentanyl and its misuse contributed to a 65% increase in drug-related overdose deaths in the state. Typically, an opioid addict experiences multiple overdose scares during their drug use. However, programs involving public health and public safety have resulted in documented progress and helping people who are addicted to opioids. Opioid prescriptions in the state do remain problematic. For example, in Fayette County there were 128.8 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons in 2016. However, in other counties such as Fulton County, the rates are much lower. The two most commonly prescribed opioids in the state are oxycodone and hydrocodone.
In 2017, pharmacies in the state filled more than 2.4 million prescriptions for almost 260 million dosage units of oxycodone products. During that same year, there were 1.6 million prescriptions for 146 million dosage units of hydrocodone products. The total amount of hydrocodone and oxycodone prescribed equates to around 32 dosage units per resident in the state. Opioid addiction is a dangerous problem that requires proper treatment and help. Drug treatment centers in the state can help opioid addicts who are struggling with any type of drug or alcohol addiction.