Health professionals, public servants, and regular folks can now access accurate data on fatal overdose in Allegheny and other Pennsylvania counties
With funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy’s Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) has launched a statewide website called OverdoseFreePA. It offers educational toolkits tailored to specific interest groups, information about local community organizing efforts, and–most excitingly–an as-it-happens view into this preventable public health crisis for anyone who wants to know.
Overdose data is available broken down by year; by age, sex, and types of drugs; and overlaid on a map of Allegheny County to show which neighborhoods have been mostly heavily affected.
The website itself is hoped to serve as an overdose prevention strategy by alerting members “the true effect of overdoses within their community and provid[ing] resources for increasing public awareness of the overdose risk and strategies for reducing this risk,” according to Jan Pringle, PhD, who heads PERU at Pitt.
However, without up-to-date data, we won’t be able to measure the impact of OverdoseFreePA, the eventual (we hope) passage of legislation improving our prescription monitoring program and broadening naloxone distribution, the use of Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) by pharmacists and physicians, or any other intervention designed to reduce overdose deaths in Pennsylvania. We’ll be left to wonder, like so many howling dogs, if we’re having an impact.
Based on the 2013 dataset available on OverdoseFreePA, we have created an easy to download and share infographic. Please feel free to use it in educational settings or anywhere else it can help deepen understanding and spur action about this epidemic’s rising tide.
Because, as Dr. Pringle says: “These are deaths that didn’t have to happen.”
Click on the image below to access an easy-to-share version posted online