While the media has focused on the COVID-19 pandemic across the nation, opioid use continues. Some people call addiction a silent epidemic alongside the coronavirus, as Pennsylvania public health officials say that it’s time to leave the stigma behind.
Opioid addiction is a disease, and there is treatment available. But many people find it difficult to reach out and let loved ones know they are struggling.
Governor Wolf’s Message on Opioid Addiction
In a press conference last night, Governor Wolf and Department of Health representatives asked the public to end the stigma surrounding addiction. Help is available, he wants everyone to know, but reaching out for help is difficult when people are ashamed.
Some counties in Pennsylvania have seen an increase in overdose fatalities that are twice as high as 2019. Anecdotally, increased overdose deaths, and hospitalizations are a trend. Experts say that isolation and economic depression are both contributing factors.
Some people who are overdosing are regular drug users, often using drugs that also contain fentanyl. However, increasingly ER’s are seeing people admitted who have relapsed. There is usually a lot of shame and loneliness that people who use drugs are trying to cope with.
Getting the Help You Need in Pennsylvania
“The most important thing for people to know is that there is hope through the help that is available for Pennsylvanians struggling with substance use disorder,” DDAP Secretary Jennifer Smith told the press.
“Even during the pandemic, Pennsylvania’s drug and alcohol treatment providers are open and operational. If people are deciding whether to take that first, brave step, there is absolutely no shame in seeking help to lead a happy, healthy life. We must end the stigma associated with substance use disorder. Ending addiction stigma means saving Pennsylvania lives,” she said, explaining that there are many resources such as treatment, peer recovery programs, and online or outpatient therapy.
If you live in Pennsylvania and are looking for help, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs has a toll-free helpline that can help drug users or their loved ones learn more about treatment and recovery options. You can call it at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
You can also learn about treatment options in California by calling the phone number at the top of this page.