Hospitalizations: Legal opiates down… Heroin UP .. winning the war on drugs ?

Painkiller and heroin hospitalizations: which Pa. regions had the most?

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The Pennsylvania region that includes Harrisburg, York and Lancaster experienced a 442 percent increase in hospitalizations for painkillers from 2010 to 2014, according to a new analysis.

That was the largest increase out of nine regions, and more than double the average statewide increase of 204 percent.

The southcentral region also experienced a 305 percent increase in heroin overdose hospitalizations. That was above the statewide average of 145 percent, but below the level of increase in the northwestern and northcentral regions, which saw increases of 426 percent and 509 percent.

The analysis was done by the Pennsylvania Health Cost Containment Council in an effort to shed further light on the crisis of painkiller and heroin overdoses. The epidemic is attributed to easy access to prescription painkiller and a historical cheap supply of heroin. Both drugs are opioids, which are highly addictive and cause addicts to feel severely without an opioid. The majority of heroin addicts first become addicted to a painkiller.

Pa. painkiller-heroin crisis: 10 important things to know

Pa. painkiller-heroin crisis: 10 important things to know

A new report estimates 34,000 people aged 12 to 17 try heroin annually in Pennsylvania, and that 80 percent of people who use heroin first abused prescription painkillers.

In the midstate, in another public event devoted to the crisis will take place Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Northern High School near Dillsburg. The session will include a presentation by a heroin task force established by York County.

In terms of sheer numbers of overdoses, the Philadelphia region led the state, with 16.5 heroin overdoses per 100,000 people, and 12.3 painkiller overdoses per 100,000 people, according to the PHC4 analysis.

The southcentral region, made up of counties including Dauphin, Cumberland, Perry, York and Lancaster, had 8 painkiller overdoses per 100,000 people, and 5.4 heroin overdoses.

That statewide average as 8.8 painkiller overdoses per 100,000 people, and 8.7 heroin overdoses.

The analysis found that in 2014, 7.5 percent of hospitalized heroin overdose victims died, as did 1.5 percent of painkiller overdose victims.

The report looked only at painkiller and heroin overdose victims who were hospitalized — not those brought to the emergency room who don’t end up hospitalized.

Joe Martin, the executive direct of the PHC4, said the agency lacks access to the hospital ER data.

Martin said he suspects there would be “many more” case if those who are treated and released from the hospital were counted.

According to the analysis, about 44 percent of the people hospitalized for painkiller overdoses were 40 or older. With heroin, the age skews younger, with 43 percent being younger than 40, and 22 percent being in their 20s.

3 Responses

  1. buying bullets for ISIS ……good job CDC

  2. I was wondering why there was such a sharp increase at the end of 2010, but a quick Google search doesn’t reveal any clues. However, I did find a 2013 CDC report on Pennsylvania that said the state doesn’t have a “state pain clinic law,” along with a poorly working PDMP.

    Here’s what I see: Just like many other states, Pennsylvania is putting a lot of effort and resources into the opioid war. Part of that effort is the criminal justice system putting drug addicts and chronic pain patients into addiction programs. And research has found a direct correlation between victims of drug overdose and the last time they saw a doctor or were in rehab, which was close to the time of the overdose. The more patients are sent to addiction clinics, the more patients overdose. And I’m guessing that in Pennsylvania, most addiction clinics are all about abstinence (which is based on religion).

  3. What’s going on in Pennsylvania that so many people need take drugs?
    Could it be Rumspringa? I had a very good friend of mine from a very big Amish community in Indiana who sponsored a couple Amish boys in AA and alcohol wasn’t their problem. A lot of people believe that the Amish lead a very sheltered life, but most don’t realize that when an Amish teen reaches a certain age they are aloud to experience the life of non-amish teens and this is called Rumspringa. I guess you could call it the bachelor party before they choose their faith. Most return to the Amish faith but some return with issues. I also have a cousin who was raised strict Baptist who also has some very severe drug problems. There is the friend of mine raised devout Catholic who’s now in prison for dealing coke in very large amounts. How about my late brother in law who was raised strict pentecostal who died at 44 because of a life of illicit drug use.
    I’m willing to bet that if a study was done about drug use in strict religious communities that the numbers would be as high or higher than in impoverished demographic areas. So with that being said, Religion could be a major cause of drug addiction, let’s see how far the DEA and CDC would get if they tried to outlaw religion. I’m really glad I’m an atheist!

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