The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many new challenges that have had an impact on those with substance use disorder. Emotional stressors such as potential job loss, working full-time from home without child care and a decrease in face-to-face social interaction have created additional barriers for people to seek treatment or access treatment or recovery support when they want or need it. The Overdose Prevention Project at the Allegheny County Health Department works with partners to provide resources to individuals and communities to address substance use disorder.
September is National Recovery Month. The month-long campaign aims to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders, while supporting those with substance use disorders to live a healthy and rewarding life. The Health Department joins in celebrating the gains made by those living in recovery in all its forms.
According to Allegheny County’s Fatal Overdose Dashboard since 2008, Allegheny County, has experienced fatal overdose rates higher than those seen throughout much of the country. There were 3,180 fatal drug overdoses in Allegheny County between 2014 and 2019 and 89% of these overdose deaths were opioid-related. While accidental overdose deaths in Allegheny County dropped 33% from 2017 (738) to 2018 (492), there are still far too many people dying from overdose, with 570 lives lost to overdose in 2019.
While treatment and harm reduction services are still available and being offered for those in need, ACHD and its partners have worked extremely hard to provide tools so that communities are safely prepared to respond to overdose. Tools include information about treatment options and Naloxone distribution to Allegheny County communities. For those in recovery that may be at risk for recurrence of use or those in active use currently at risk of overdose, family members or friends should have Narcan available at home. Narcan is a life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Visit bit.ly/AlleghenySaferUse for tips to prevent overdose and infection and resource information to access harm reduction services.
Throughout the month of September and October, ACHD and its partners have hosted multiple Narcan giveaway days and resource fairs in priority communities that were identified through ACHD’s overdose surveillance and community engagement efforts.
Join us in recognizing those who continue their struggle by attending one of these upcoming events.