Opioid addiction in the Pittsburgh area has been a growing public health concern in recent years. According to experts at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, Southwestern Pennsylvania, including Allegheny and its surrounding counties, has seen one of the largest spikes in opioid use and overdoses in the last decade.
The Rising Cost of Opioid Addiction in Pittsburgh
In 2015, the overdose rate for all drugs in Allegheny county was nearly double the national rate, at 33.6 deaths for every 100,000 people, and the overdose rate for prescribed opioids and heroin are doubled in our community as well.
To highlight the increase in opioid deaths, the death rate in Allegheny county in 2015 was 414—300 of which were due to opioid use—which has increased from 168 deaths in 2008. The surrounding counties, including Westmoreland, Greene, and Armstrong County, reflect similar figures. Widespread opioid use, however, is not singular to the Pittsburgh area. This has become a national epidemic in urban and rural communities alike.
Opioid Addiction Treatment and Prevention
Treatment and prevention efforts for opioid and heroin abuse can have a significant impact in decreasing the overall economic cost and rising death rate caused by addiction, both in Allegheny County and on a national scale.
Careful regulation of opiate prescriptions, along with safeguarding and the proper destruction of these medications when no longer needed are just a few initial steps that can be taken by the healthcare industry to begin the process of addressing the current opioid epidemic.
Early treatment for opioid addiction can also save lives. If you are concerned for someone’s use of opiates, encourage them to seek help. There are a number of community resources available on a state and local level for those in Allegheny County and the surrounding areas who need help in their battle to fight drug addiction, including talking with the AKH Foundation’s Community Nurses as a starting point.
Another important aspect is prevention. Similarly, there are many local and statewide initiatives, such as PA Stop and OverdoseFree PA, aimed at providing opioid and heroin prevention resources to those who need them. If you or are loved one are struggling with drug addiction, know that there is help out there!