At the Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition, we believe everyone deserves professional evidence-based care that is sensitive to the needs of the individual and the reality of the current drug supply. Individuals with opioid use disorder or those who use opioids, along with those recently released from treatment programs, are at highest risk of overdose. To mitigate risk in these populations, we are introducing the Treatment Overdose Prevention (TOP) Initiative. TOP faces the overdose crisis head on and delivers overdose prevention education, training, and naloxone distribution to those who need it most.
In 2018, almost 70,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, and among those two thirds were associated with opioids. In Pennsylvania, we have the third highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country — and a rate that is twice the national average. Our overdose death public health crisis is directly related to the increased use of illicit, short acting, and high potency fentanyl. The good news is that we have naloxone, an effective evidence based harm reduction medication that prevents overdose deaths.Read more
The Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition seeks to advocate for those most at risk over overdose. No population is more at risk than those leaving correctional facilities. According to research from American Public Health Association, in the first two weeks after being released from prison, returning citizens are 40 times more likely to die of an opioid overdose than someone in the general population. Correctional facilities in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties are already taking the needed step to address this issue by distributing Naloxone the overdose reversal medication to those returning citizens, but we must expand this effort to every county.
Naloxone distribution while vital is not enough to protect our returning citizens. We must also ensure that individuals in correctional facilities have access to medication assisted recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, “Medication-Assisted Recovery” is a practical, accurate, and non-stigmatizing way to describe a pathway to recovery made possible by physician-prescribed and monitored medications, along with other recovery supports, e.g., counseling and peer support. Although no medications cure dependence on drugs or alcohol, some can play a significant and lifesaving role in helping people begin and sustain recovery. The Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition supports the use of and access to all three FDA approved medications for treating Substance Use Disorder.Read more