Philadelphia can not escape the massive opiate epidemic plaguing the United States. Everywhere you look, in every paper in every town across the US, opioid abuse is a popular topic. Philadelphia may be one of the hardest hit cities for this giant problem that is taking multiple lives daily. Many medical officials are discussing different ways to help curb the issue and to save as many lives as possible.
Though the nation is getting beat up by the overdose deaths and destruction caused by prescription painkillers and heroin, hope is not lost. We can overcome this issue and over time I believe we will. Each city in every state needs a strict regimen on education and teaching the public about the dangers of opiates.
Leading specialists in the topic of addiction and opioid dependence met in Philadelphia earlier this week. They didn't beat around the bush about how desperate they are to fix this problem. We all know we are losing people daily to the epidemic. “Prescription opioids are effective as pain medications. If you get lower back pain or you get some kind of pancreatitis you are going to pray to God for some kind of opioid. And they will work. The problem is they also have an abuse liability," says Thomas McClellan, CEO of the Philadelphia-based non-profit Treatment Research Institute.
McClellan, who served as the Deputy Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), lost one son to addiction and has another in recovery. He feels a perfect storm of over-prescribing, a lack of oversight and misuse by patients have led the nation to this crisis and epidemic.
The state of Pennsylvania had 15.3 deadly overdoses per 100,00 residents in 2010 (the most recent year of statistics) with most of those deaths involving prescription drugs. They ranked 14th in the nation, according to a report by Trust for America's Health. In the city of Philadelphia, city officials recorded a 15 percent rise in deaths where prescription opioids like Oxycodone, Codeine, and Hydrocodone were detected. This is starting to be a common trend plaguing our country.
There is no question that the issue of opioid abuse is rampant. It is taking the lives of our family, our friends, our neighbors, and loved ones. I am hoping that the group of specialists consider new ways to combat this drug problem. States like Ohio are creating laws and adding funds to their efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. I hope Pennsylvania reads the bills that have been brought to Ohio's state senate and follows suit.