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Drug Overdoses in Pennsylvania

Because of nationwide increases in drug addiction, abuse and overdoses, it is important the keep a tab on epidemiology, including the numbers of persons affected, the types and sources of the drugs and areas which are hardest hit. One way to do this is to keep an on-going analysis of drug arrests, treatment admissions and overdose deaths. When these are tabulated, reports are released by various government agencies and then made available to the public.

The data released regarding the Pennsylvania drug abuse situation ranked the Keystone state at the ninth highest in the nation in drug overdose deaths.

The most common drug identified by toxicology reports of those deaths was heroin. (51 percent of the cases) Fifty eight counties reported deaths from drug overdoses and 48 of those stated heroin was the most frequently reported drug to appear in toxicology tests.

In about 50 Percent of those cases, there were also traces of benzodiazepines and the most common of those was Xanax (alprazolam).

An alarming percentage of the overdose victims was made up of citizens of rural counties where agriculture is the mainstay of industries. While heroin led the pack as far as the single most common drug mentioned in the overdose, combinations of drugs, including heroin with benzodiazepines and heroin along with opioid pain relievers played a big part as well.

The drugs identified in 2, 497 Pennsylvania overdose victims ranked in frequency as below:

Heroin, 51%; alprazolam, 19.4%; oxycodone, 14.9%; cocaine, 17%; fentanyl, 14%. The rest of the drugs found were all below 10%. They included, clonazepam, oxymorphone, diazepam, methadone, Marijuana, hydrocodone, tramadol, PCP, methamphetamine and MDMA in that order.

The report released by the Drug Enforcement Administration also discussed these drug combinations, showing them to be a major cause of the overdose damages and death rate. 81% of decedents showed the presence of two or more different drugs of interest. The most common drug found in combination with others was, not surprisingly, heroin. Other common drugs found in combination were hydrocodone, methadone, alprazolam and fentanyl.

Data sources include: www.dea.gov, Pennsylvania coroners data and www.census.gov

Illicit Drug Use in the Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older in Pennsylvania, by Substate Region: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2010, 2011, and 2012 NSDUHs (Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health)

Pennsylvania's drug-fatality rate, well above the national average for years, increased 23 % between 2010 and 2012.

Pennsylvania State Government Agencies

Drug Abuse Facts

Drug Abuse Information

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