Philadelphia’s struggle to combat the opioid epidemic continues to prove itself as a problem. Rates of substance abuse, overdose, and deaths due to drug use show little signs of slowing. Addiction contributes to the rising problem of homelessness throughout the city. The state urges lifting stigmas on opioid addiction as a vital step to push back against the issue. 

The state of Pennsylvania started the year strong with continued vigor to address the opioid epidemic. Governor Tom Wolf has been a vocal supporter of providing help to residents battling drug addiction

Among various approaches to encourage the fight, Wolf approved a $5 million loan repayment plan for students planning to specialize in the opioid crisis. A Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania also gave the state more funding to support those in need of addiction treatment.

It wasn’t long before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and attention deviated to slowing the spread of the virus. The fight against opioids was one of the many causes that took a back seat to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, the shift did nothing to slow the spread of the opioid addiction problem.

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Wolf’s Response to the Epidemic

Though 2020 caused people to lose sight of the “other epidemic,” the Wolf administration is renewing the fight. He made it a point to note that, while COVID-19 is an ongoing problem, the concerns about opioid addiction have neither gone away nor lessened, either. While people focused on the spread of the virus, those struggling with addiction stayed hidden in the shadows.

Wolf and representatives from the Pennsylvania State Department of Health again called for an end to the addiction stigma. Officials hope that when residents see the state urges lifting stigmas on opioid addiction it will encourage them to reconsider their assumptions. Additionally, the programs available to individuals stuck in the cycle of drug addiction are a crucial part of escaping it.

It’s easy to fall into the false beliefs and preconceived notions that surround addiction. These misconceptions do nothing to slow the spread of the opioid epidemic and only contribute to the problem. Overcoming addiction isn’t as simple as “just quitting.” Thankfully, the Wolf administration realizes the enduring extent of the issue and continues supporting the fight. 

“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,” Secretary Jennifer Smith of the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. “We must end the stigma associated with substance use disorder. Ending addiction stigma means saving Pennsylvania lives.”

Encouraging Advancements in the Face of Adversity

Despite the distraction from the opioid epidemic, some remained focused on combating the problem. Progress toward overcoming the issue didn’t stall entirely. According to Dr. Rachel Levine, Health Secretary for Pennsylvania, the year still saw some reassuring advances.

Opioid prescriptions were down 47 percent as of the end of last year as a result of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. It has also nearly eliminated the illicit act of “doctor shopping.” This dangerous practice of seeking out multiple prescriptions from different doctors and pharmacies has been a growing