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Opioid Epidemic in Berks County

Dec. 17, 2019 – In recent years, there has been a significant increase in deaths resulting from heroin and opioid prescription drug use. In fact, it has been reported that for people ages 25-64, drug overdose causes more deaths per year than motor vehicle accidents. Opioids – prescription and illicit – are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. In the United States, opioids were involved in 47,600 deaths in 2017, accounting for 68.7% of all drug overdose deaths.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths increased significantly in Pennsylvania by 16.9 percent from 2016 (37.9 per 100,000) to 2017 (44.3 per 100,000). The majority of drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid.”

In 2018, overdose deaths declined by 18 percent in 2018, but Pennsylvania continues to be one of the hardest hit states by the opioid epidemic, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Click here to learn about the 2019 increase in overdose deaths in Berks County.

What is being done in Pennsylvania?

In January 2018, Gov. Tom Wolf issued an opioid disaster declaration to make the fight against opioids easier by loosening regulations and better-enabling agencies to collaborate on prevention, treatment and recovery efforts. That 90-day declaration has been renewed seven times.

What is being done in Berks County?

As the coordinating agency for publicly supported drug and alcohol programming in Berks County, the Council on Chemical Abuse provides prevention education, intervention and recovery for those impacted by the opioid epidemic.

These include offering free Narcan kits to reverse opioid overdoses; our Blue Cares initiative to encourage individuals to seek treatment following an overdose, and our RISE Center, which provides a space for programs and meetings to support people in recovery.

Click here to learn about our prevention education programs that teach children and teens the skills needed to avoid drug abuse.

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