Cocaine and Methamphetamines

“We still don’t have a full, complete understanding of stimulant use on the ground. There seem to be all kinds of mixed messages flying around,” said Kendra Viner, the opioid surveillance program manager for Philadelphia’s Public Health Department. “There definitely seems to be a disconnect between what people think they’re buying and what’s found in their toxicology if they die, or their drugs are tested. There are a lot of really dangerous cutting agents on the scene.”

https://www.inquirer.com/health/opioid-addiction/philadelphia-pennsylvania-meth-cocaine-stimulant-use-rising-20191001.html

By Aubrey Whelan

Overdose Hospitalization Report

“As the number of overdose deaths in Philadelphia dropped in 2018 from the 2017 watermark and naloxone became more prevalent in the community, we expect that the number of hospital admissions would go down; more people are surviving overdoses,” James Garrow, a spokesperson for Philadelphia’s health department, wrote in an email. “This is great news because it means that these folks have another chance to get into treatment.”

Still, he added, Philadelphia’s historically high overdose fatalities — 1,116 people died here in 2018, a rate higher than anywhere else in Pennsylvania — mean that it’s not surprising the city leads the state in hospitalizations.

https://www.inquirer.com/health/hospital-admissions-opioid-overdose-pennsylvania-20190918.html

By Aubrey Whelan

Naloxone Giveaway Days

The City of Philadelphia, in response to an emergency that has taken the lives of thousands of Philadelphians, disrupted the lives of tens of thousands more, and affected the lives of each and every one of us, recognizes International Overdose Awareness Day. In honor of this day, and to save as many lives as possible, the Health Department will be holding a series of naloxone giveaway days in September. International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held on August 31st every year that aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death.

https://www.phila.gov/2019-08-30-philadelphia-announces-free-naloxone-giveaway-days/

Opioid Epidemic and Infections

“People are injecting more often, they need more syringes, and they don’t necessarily have enough, and because of that they’re reusing syringes, which increases their risk,” said Lia Pizzicato, a substance-use epidemiologist for the city health department. “And then because they’re injecting so much, it’s difficult to find a vein, and they’re more likely to miss. It’s a cycle.”

https://www.inquirer.com/health/opioid-crisis-infections-strep-a-endocarditis-drug-use-philadelphia-20190809.html

By Aubrey Whelan

Change in Overdose Deaths from 2017 to 2018

“What I was really struck by was how big the drop was in Kensington — that’s the site of the Resilience Project, the site of the most drug activity. It’s the hot spot in the city,” said Tom Farley, the city’s health commissioner. “It’s an encouraging sign that we are really making progress in the area. But the rest of the city is following different trajectories.”

https://www.inquirer.com/health/philadelphia-map-zip-code-overdose-deaths-2018-20190725.html

By Aubrey Whelan

Starbucks Blue Lights

Philadelphia’s Health Department is still giving out blue light bulbs to neighbors who ask for them, according to spokesperson Jim Garrow, but only until the supply runs out. After that, the city will reevaluate the strategy’s effectiveness, he said.

“The opioid epidemic is unprecedented,” Garrow said, “and the city is willing to try a variety of tactics to help support those with opioid use disorder.”

https://billypenn.com/2019/07/18/phillys-opioid-epidemic-is-so-bad-starbucks-has-blue-lights-in-the-bathrooms/

By Michaela Winberg