Prescription drug overdose prevention efforts across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are lacking in counties with high overdose rates, according to a new report released by Drexel University researchers as part of a statewide workgroup studying substance abuse prevention initiatives.
Pennsylvania has the highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the nation among 18-24 year old males, and the eighth highest rate of drug overdose deaths overall. Overdose deaths in the Commonwealth increased by 13 percent in 2014, to a total of 2,732 drug overdose deaths, according to state epidemiological data.
“Overall, many Pennsylvania counties with high overdose rates lack the prevention resources needed to reduce overdose deaths,” said State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup (SEOW) co-chairs Dr. Amy Carroll-Scott and Dr. Philip Massey both assistant professors of community health and prevention in the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University. “Local and state officials dedicated to preventing this growing epidemic can use findings and recommendations in this report to identify gaps in services and areas for improvement regarding overdose prevention.”
The State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup compiled data to provide a current snapshot of overdose deaths and available prevention resources. These include efforts to deter people from developing addiction, efforts to diagnose addiction early and prevent relapse, and medical treatments to prevent overdose deaths.
The new report measures and maps statewide data on key indicators including overdose deaths, drug take-back boxes, opioid replacement therapy, as well as the availability and use of naloxone.
This project was conducted through the SEOW, a revitalized substance abuse prevention initiative. It is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through a Pennsylvania Strategic Prevention Framework – Partnerships for Success (SPF-PFS) grant. The Pennsylvania SPF-PFS grant specifically addresses underage drinking and prescription drug abuse and misuse.