Philadelphia was recently recognized for working toward prescription drug abuse prevention among teens. The city’s drug prevention program was acknowledged this month at a U.S. Conference of Mayors, held in Washington, D.C. The conference brought together more than 280 of the nation’s mayors to talk about issues such as the economy, jobs, and the prescription drug abuse epidemic. With its “Too Good for Drugs” program, Philadelphia was recognized as the leader in large cities helping to reduce the use and abuse of prescription drugs. Philly was awarded a $10,000 grant to continue to carry out its program. Philadelphia’s “Too Good for Drugs” program will spread the message of drug and alcohol prevention across elementary, middle, and high schools in the city. Students in select classrooms will participate in the prevention curriculum, and after-school prevention education for youth in certain zip codes will target high-risk populations.
Philadelphia Drug Stats The city of Philadelphia has struggled with prescription drug abuse for decades. Statistics from the Trust for American’s Health Prescription Drug Abuse Report show:
- Between 1999 and 2010, deaths from prescription opiates like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin overtook those from heroin and cocaine combined.
- Philadelphia showed steady increases in prescription-drug deaths, but an even more dramatic jump in heroin-related deaths, which more than doubled between 2010 and 2012.
- Pennsylvania has the 14th highest rate of drug overdose deaths (15.3 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents in 2010; most involving prescription drugs).
- Up until last year, Pennsylvania was among 28 states and the District of Columbia that received low scores on implementing strategies for curbing prescription drugs.
Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia especially, must take action to win the battle against prescription drug abuse. PA state officials are also looking to expand the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, which requires doctors and pharmacists to keep a record of all prescriptions in a state-wide database, in an effort to stop doctor shopping. Taking the Right Measures As officials and law enforcement have cracked down on prescription drug abuse, users are finding the drugs more difficult to obtain, and therefore more expensive to buy. Many are switching to harder street drugs like heroin because it’s cheaper and easier to find. Implementing measures that make prescription drug abuse more difficult is key, but so are those measures that educate the public about the dangers of any and all drugs. As Philadelphia has found, drug addiction can be prevented through education programs that target at-risk populations. By continuing to develop programs such as “Too Good for Drugs,” Philadelphia can save the lives of many residents, and other cities can follow in its footsteps.