Serious news for parents, educators, law enforcement, and public health officials out of Pennsylvania: a recently-released study shows the nation’s growing heroin epidemic is taking hold in rural areas of the state.
Experts from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania joined with state senators to collect testimonies from the state’s rural regions. Analysis of the 300+ pages uncovered several alarming facts about the state of heroin and opiate abuse.
According to the study, the rise of heroin abuse crosses geographical, racial, and socioeconomic boundaries. From 2009 – 2014, almost 3,000 Pennsylvanian citizens have died due to opiod or heroin abuse, with overdose deaths increasing by a jaw-dropping 470% over the past 2 decades. Statistics show that drug overdoses are claiming more lives of adults 20 – 44 than motor vehicle accidents, and Pennsylvania ranks 7th nationwide in number of deaths related to drug overdose.
Why the increase? Heroin is becoming more inexpensive and easy to get than over, leading teens and children as young as 12 to start trying the drug sooner.
What are Pennsylvania Lawmakers Doing to Curb Heroin Abuse?
Before the study was released, state legislators and public officials had already taken some steps to fight back against heroin abuse in the region. Governor Tom Corbett worked with the Departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Health to identify potential methods to reduce the prevalence of prescription drug abuse and overdoses, with a particular focus on how health care providers can mitigate the situation.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate have introduced legislation to establish a stronger prescription drug monitoring program, expanding the kinds of drugs that are currently being monitored and providing greater access to pharmacies and health care providers who can write prescriptions.
Other Ways to Prevent Heroin Abuse
In addition to analyzing the collected testimonies, the study identified other ways to stop the spread of heroin abuse in rural Pennsylvania. They found that early education and intervention is one of the most effective preventative measures. Existing educational programs, such as the LifeSkills Training Program used in some Pennsylvania middle schools, have proven to decrease high-risk behaviors that can lead to heroin abuse.
In particular, the study advocates for the following measures against heroin abuse:
- Community education to address the perceptions of prescription drug use and abuse
- Provider education to help health care providers learn more about pain management strategies and alternatives to opiod treatments
- Diversion control to educate the public on the correct storage and disposal of prescription drugs
- Harm reduction to increase access to naloxene, a drug to help during overdoses
- Addiction treatment to increase access to necessary drug treatment programs and combat the stigmas associated with drug treatment
Help With Heroin Abuse at ARCpoint Labs
ARCpoint Labs provides drug testing for businesses and individuals. Our testing includes screening for heroin and opiod use, and as a professional drug testing company, we work with Medical Review Officers to ensure drug testing positives weren’t caused by legal prescription drug use.
To get started, contact your nearest ARCpoint Labs in Pennsylvania: ARCpoint Labs of Doylestown, PA (call 267-454-6383), ARCpoint Labs of Limerick, PA (call 610-409-0990), or ARCpoint Labs of Philadelphia Central (call 267-639-3342).