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Unintentional Drug Overdoses: An unfortunate trend affecting all communities and what you can do.

opiates-abuseBucks County and the rest of the Country continues to battle the escalating problem of Prescription Medication and Heroin abuse. Heroin is no longer an “inner city drug”. It has made its way into all of our suburbs and it appears it is not leaving anytime soon despite law enforcements vigilant efforts. For people aged 25-64, more die from drug overdose than car crashes. In October of this year, 63 people in Bensalem, Pa., overdosed on opiate/opioid drugs. Recently, the Trust for America’s Health released a report which found Pennsylvania has the 14th highest rate of drug overdose deaths. This report also noted that Pennsylvania had 15.3 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents in 2010 and most of those deaths involved the use of prescription drugs.

Here in Bucks County there were 136 drug-related deaths(documented by DAWN). Of these deaths, opioids were the number one cause of drug-related deaths with heroin being specified in half of the deaths. Furthermore it was documented that more than 50% of the deaths were people under the age of 34. Nationally, drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug overdose deaths have jumped 102-percent from 1999 to 2010 and as of the last reporting in 2010, 60-percent of those deaths were related to pharmaceuticals.  The CDC also found that of the 38,329 overdose deaths in 2010 that involved pharmaceuticals, 75-percent involved some form of opioid.

So what do prescription opiate pharmaceuticals and heroin have in common? They are both opiates and both have a very high potential for dependency and addiction as well posing very serious health risks such as overdose. Many young people begin experimenting with prescription medications and move to heroin due to the high cost associated with pharmaceuticals. Here is an informational brochure on Heroin and one on Prescription Medications. Also find out how and where to safely and legally dispose of your unused / unwanted prescription medications here

The Overdose Prevention and Education Advisory Board invites you to come out and find out what is being done in both Bucks  County as well as state wide regarding opiate drug use and the rise in overdoses. Attending will allow you to be part of not only the conversation but learn how you can be part of the solution. We will be meeting monthly at various locations throughout Bucks County for convenience of the communities. By attending, you are not required to attend future monthly meetings although you are always welcome. If you are interested in becoming a member, membership only means that you will receive monthly e-mails regarding issues related to overdoses and opioid drug use. The Task Force is also forming sub-committee’s based on areas of interest and professional experience. We welcome everyone to participate; community members, law enforcement, recovery services, medical providers, pharmacists, persons in recovery, etc.

 Task Force goals include but are not limited to:

  • Educating others on the topic and saving lives. Outreach and education creates partnerships that may then focus on other initiatives or strategies.
  • Promoting awareness and encouraging further action.  Actions may include getting the word out and gaining support for legislative actions such as Senator Pileggis HB 1164 – Good Samaritan Act.

 Please feel free to contact David Fialko with any and all questions at 215-230-8218 x 316

Our next meeting is January 22, 2014 and is being hosted by:
Livengrin – The Foundation For Addiction Recovery:  Oxford Valley
195 Bristol-Oxford Valley Rd.
Langhorne, PA  19047
Meeting time: 6:00 pm to 7:30pm
Food and beverages will be provided

This program is made possible by funding through the Bucks County Drug Alcohol Commission, Inc.

 * SAMHSA and the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality  National Surveys on Drug Use and Health

David Fialko, BS
Prevention Specialist

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