Americans’ use of opioid painkillers and heroin continue to rise, contributing to a high rate of overdoses, opioid use disorder, and related health consequences. Pennsylvania has been among the states hardest hit, with the sixth highest overdose death rate in the nation in 2015.
Effective public health communication requires consistent messaging in plain language. Although many individuals and organizations work on the opioid problem in our state, Pennsylvania did not have a statewide public health campaign about opioid use and its risks.
Prejudice, discrimination, and misinformation about people with addictions are common. These negative beliefs can discourage people who use drugs and their families from seeking help or feeling comfortable with sharing their experiences.