HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Naloxone is one of the most powerful tools available in the fight against opioids; It can stop an overdose in its tracks and has saved countless lives.
However, some communities in Pennsylvania don’t have enough naloxone, and the numbers are sobering.
Pennsylvania’s 5360 overdose deaths in 2021, which amounts to nearly 15 people in the Commonwealth overdosing and dying every day, trailed only California and Florida.
“This really reinforces the fact that we have to use everything we can to keep people alive and get them into treatment,” said Dr. Denise Johnson, Pennsylvania’s Physician General.
Johnson stands her orders on naloxone as an overdose reversal drug. In fact, naloxone is one of the Commonwealth’s best weapons in the fight, and they want it in the hands of folks battling addiction and those who encounter them.
“Think everyone can have naloxone you just never know when you’re going to encounter someone who may need saving,” added Johnson.
Get the latest Pennsylvania politics and election news with abc27 newsletters!
Overdose is not just an urban, suburban, or rural problem. It’s common throughout Pennsylvania. A new study from Penn State suggests where you live may determine your chances of living.
It showed that in heavily populated places, like Philadelphia, naloxone is readily available. In rural counties, not so much, even though the drug is free.
“One of the reasons I think rural areas had less access was because they also don’t have as many emergency responders,” Louisa Holmes, Assistant Professor of Geography at Penn State University said. “Not all emergency responders are equally trained to administer naloxone.”
Johnson says Pennsylvania is doing what it can and concedes more must be done. Geography also plays a key role in the battle, not just addiction.
“In terms of getting a first responder to you in time if you are in a rural area, that takes longer. So someone in your household, if they have naloxone they could save your life,” said Johnson.
Stay up to date on the latest from abc27 News on-air and on the go with the free abc27 Mobile app.
Pennsylvania has never done more to battle overdose, but for more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians every year, it’s not doing enough.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has an online Naloxone Training Video, which is updated regularly.