How Opioids Hurt Pennsylvania

While the entire country is feeling the painful outcome of having an opioid issue, Pennsylvania has been struggling more in recent years. According to the PA Department of Health:

  • In 2019, approximately 12 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses daily.
  • 78% of counties in Pennsylvania have overdose death rates higher than the national average.
  • Of the 4,348 drug overdose deaths in 2019, 80.2% (3,485) have been confirmed to be opioid-related.
  • 27% of overdose deaths occurred among 25-34 year olds, followed by 26% of overdose deaths among ages 35-44.
  • Based on data collected from death records, 57% of drug overdose deaths occurred in the person’s own home, highlighting the importance of getting naloxone into the hands of community members, particularly friends and family members of opioid-abusers.
Types of Prescription Opioid Drugs

Opioid painkillers are a class of drug that can treat people with moderate to high levels  of pain. Let’s break down the various types of opioids:

  • Fentanyl - this drug is a synthetic opioid that is usually used to treat breakthrough pain. When people are already on a medication plan but still have bouts of pain, fentanyl can help.
  • Oxycodone - this form of opioid is common and can be given for short-acting and long-acting pain. 
  • Hydrocodone - this drug is used to treat short-acting pain.
  • Morphine - this is one of the strongest opioids and often given to people with chronic pain.
  • Codeine - this medication is usually taken orally and used to treat short-acting pain.
  • Hydromorphone - a fast-acting drug, hydromorphone is a short-acting drug that can also be a morphine substitute.
  • Methadone - can be used to help people struggling with an addiction to opioids through a weaning method. People in chronic pain can also use this for pain management.
  • Oxymorphone - another drug that can be used in place of morphine, oxymorphone is a drug that can treat both short-acting and long-acting pain.
  • Pentazocine - a drug similar to codeine, it’s important to know that this drug may affect seniors more than others and give them symptoms of confusion and anxiety.

Each of these drugs has the potential for addiction. Creating awareness of the addiction potential and the mechanism for addiction is an important step to curbing addiction. 

What You Need to Know About Opioids

Opioids are highly addictive because of how they affect the brain. When a person takes an opioid, the drug binds and activates receptors on brain cells, spinal cord cells, as well as other organs. Opioids then do two things: they block pain signals and release dopamine, which makes the person feel painless and euphoric.

Because of this feeling, people continue to use the drug and may develop an addiction. Once addicted, people may abuse their prescription in the following ways: 

  • Taking the medicine in a different way than prescribed.
  • Taking a dose that wasn’t prescribed.
  • Taking drugs from a prescription that was not for them.
  • Only taking the medicine to get the euphoric high.

It’s incorrect to think that just because a drug is prescribed that is is not dangerous, or addictive. 

We understand how prescription opioid addiction can put someone’s life on hold or tragically cut it short. If you or a loved one were prescribed opioids that led to an addiction or death, our team of attorneys may be able to help you. For a free consultation with our team at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., contact us today.

Source: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/Documents/Programs/PDMP/Pennsylvania%20Overdose%20Data%20Brief%202019.pdf

https://www.pamedsoc.org/docs/librariesprovider2/pamed-documents/opioid-hod-slide-deck_dr-gallagher-final.pdf?sfvrsn=96899d48_2