Pennsylvania’s Drug Treatment Landscape Keeping the Light of Hope Alive

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In 2011, there were 15.3 drug overdose related deaths for every 100,000 Pennsylvanians.

In 2013, this jumped to 19.4 per 100,000 with 2,426 deaths. A year later in 2014, Pennsylvania posted the drug overdose mortality rate at 21.9 per 100,000. Mortality rates for prescription drug overdose also rose to 65.5 percent with oxycodone taking the number 4 spot in 2012. Other drugs that were implicated in the high mortality rates associated with prescription drugs include benzodiazepines, antipsychotic medications, and antihistamines. These figures are not exactly encouraging. Nonetheless Pennsylvania’s drug treatment officials are hoping to make a dent in the number of drug overdose related deaths by increasing the number of addiction treatment admissions.

In 2012, there were close to 120,000 Pennsylvanians who sought treatment for a variety of substance addiction which was less than 1 percent of the state’s population at the time. Methamphetamine overdose accounted for 28 percent of all drug rehab and treatment admissions while 19 percent were admitted for heroin and 24 percent for prescription opioid pain reliever addiction.

Pennsylvania’s drug woes are dismal compared to other states. In fact, the CDC has labeled the state as having a very serious drug problem. Some state authorities also decry the lack of standards particularly in the more efficient and more effective monitoring of heroin addiction and heroin overdose deaths. Many believe that the lack of standards are contributing to the large numbers of deaths associated with heroin addiction and nonmedical use of prescription opiates. It is highly possible, they say, that the figures are the result of mislabeling or miscategorization of deaths. It was observed that some coroner’s report indicated heroin overdose as the cause of death. There is now a claim that since there are no standards, it is highly possible that individuals who may have died not because of heroin overdose have been mistakenly labeled as such.

Nonetheless, Pennsylvania’s drug rehabilitation facilities are working closely with communities to help spread the information about the availability of treatments and rehabilitation services for individuals who would like to turn their lives around for the better. It is deemed that a single addiction center can help improve the drug overdose mortality and morbidity indicators in the state if only they are given the chance to provide invaluable treatment to vulnerable populations.

This is one of the major issues that drug rehab centers in Pennsylvania are facing. They need to make sure that everyone in the state has access to prompt drug overdose treatment to pave the way for a more meaningful rehabilitation effort. The problem is that individuals will often seek medical attention when the drug’s effects have already severely undermined the structure and function of the brain, making resuscitation especially difficult. In most cases, while resuscitation efforts succeed, the individual may still succumb to coma.

Pennsylvania may have one of the most troubling figures in terms of the drug scourge. But it is anticipated that its drug treatment programs can be further harnessed to really serve the people who needs it most.

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