For the last two years, Allegheny County has been included in something unique: a frequently updated database of the area’s drug overdose fatalities.
OverdoseFreePA is a website hosted by the University of Pittsburgh, a product of the efforts of half a dozen organizations and thirteen Pennsylvania counties. Free to the public, the website offers information going back to 2009 to anyone who is interested in the health of her community. Both Allegheny County, home of Pittsburgh, and Westmoreland County, our neighbors to the east, are featured.
Not limited to graphs and lists of substances, the material also offers guidance to viewers who see high rates of overdose in their hometowns and ask “What should I do?” It offers local resources for naloxone access, prescription drug take-back locations, and educational downloads for professionals and community members.
When the site debuted back in 2014, we put together an infographic based on its most recent data. You can find a blog post about it here.
Now, two years later, we can look at 2015 updates to see what has changed and what has stayed more or less the same. The updated infographic is featured below.
Many trends have stayed consistent since 2014. Allegheny County still has an above-average overdose rate, and opioids are still our top concern. Overdose fatalities have continued to rise.
But there have been some positive changes. In October, Pennsylvania Physician General Rachel Levine signed a statewide standing order for naloxone, making the life-saving overdose antidote more widely available. Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is expected to begin in August, which will allow doctors and pharmacists to better track scripts.
And the OverdoseFreePA website in and of itself–the result of so many organizations working together–is a testament to the fact that many people on local, county, and state levels are working together to enact changes that will help aid efforts in overdose prevention, substance use harm reduction, and addiction treatment.
Please feel free to show and share this infographic in educational settings, on the web, or anywhere that it can help raise awareness.