Looking at the opioid epidemic, which is only growing with every passing day, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has decided to extend the opioid disaster declaration in the state by three more months. Making the announcement recently, Gov. Wolf said that the state required more time to implement strategies to thwart the epidemic. According to him, the renewal would infuse a fresh lease of life into the state’s initiatives that kicked off three months ago and would continue uninterrupted. He said that an extension would give additional time to the state to implement new plans to curb overdose deaths and bring in more people into the realm of treatment.
Three months ago, on Jan. 10, 2018, Gov. Wolf had declared a disaster emergency in Pennsylvania owing to the worsening opioid and heroin epidemic. He had eased certain regulations that interfered with administration of treatment, preventing first responders and others from saving lives.
He said Pennsylvania has seen steady progress in managing the crisis since the beginning of the year 2018. “I am pleased with our progress under the disaster declaration, but there is much more work to be done,” Wolf said in a statement.
The disaster declaration allowed paramedics easy access to naloxone—an opioid antagonist or overdose reversal drug. Further, they could now leave the antidote with relatives, friends, and family members of someone they had saved, but whom they thought was prone to overdosing again. The expansion of naloxone accessibility immensely helped in saving victims of overdose.
Another change that the state had implemented was expansion of its prescription drug-monitoring program. Further, the fees for obtaining a birth certificate was waived off for those who had an opioid use disorder (OUD). This was done in order to ensure that people suffering from OUD had a valid ID as it is difficult to get treatment without an ID.
The government also encouraged local hospitals to monitor non-fatal overdose cases and instances of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Gov. Wolf also called for a legislation that would allow the state secretary of health to declare a public health emergency.
The disaster declaration in Pennsylvania was much needed as statistics paint a grim picture of the current scenario of drug overdose deaths in the state. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths from drug overdose are rapidly growing in Pennsylvania compared to any other state. According to the CDC, in the past 12 months ending July 2017, there were 5,443 recorded drug overdose deaths, an increase from 3,797 deaths documented in the previous year around the same time. This showed a 43.4 percent upsurge, which is the largest among the 50 states. Another state like Pennsylvania is Florida, which recorded a 39.4 percent increase in drug overdose deaths.
The situation is grim not only in Pennsylvania, but the entire United States. Ever since, its outbreak two decades ago, the opioid epidemic is wreaking havoc on the country. The rampant use of other synthetic versions of opioids like fentanyl analogues has worsened the situation. Experts feel that unless the country comes up with safer methods of managing pain, other than the highly addictive opioids, the situation would only exacerbate with time.
Whether it is opioids or any other drug of abuse, chronic and severe addiction may be fatal. However, with treatment, one can reverse the effects of addiction and gain comprehensive and long-term sobriety.
If you have a loved one grappling with an addiction and you are looking for an addiction treatment center near you, call at our 24-hour drug helpline number 855-441-4405. Our experts from the 24/7 Recovery Helpline can assist you with any drug rehab help. You can even chat online with our representative for immediate assistance.