Pennsylvania was the number one state for drug overdose deaths last year. Ohio is number two.
Pennsylvania will hand out free naloxone Thursday across the state. The initiative comes on the heels of a federal report that says there were 5,388 overdose deaths in the state last year.
Mercer County’s numbers are growing with one overdose death a week. So far this year, there have been 50 deaths, compared to 41 in 2017. In Lawrence County, the numbers are down with 33 overdose deaths compared to 55 in 2017.
“Those numbers continue to grow. We recognize that, but again, through our collaboration in the programs that are in place, we are hopeful and optimistic to make that turnaround,” said Kim Anglin, drug and alcohol administrator with the Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission.
The Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission already gives naloxone to first responders, who also provide people with information about how they can get help with substance abuse. The new state program targets families or people that have loved ones who may be suffering from addiction to opioids.
“The Surgeon General of the United States has said that everyone is a potential first responder in the midst of this opioid crisis,” said Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine. “We really recommend that anybody have the naloxone on their person or in their purse and can be available to save a life.”
The state legislature put $5 million in the state budget for the program being run by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
A 2-pack of the spray version will be handed out in 80 locations around the state. It has one function, reversing the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system.
“Everyone deserves to have their life saved with a medicine like naloxone so they can get the treatment and recovery,” Levine said.
The free Naloxone kits will be given away Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 pm. at the following local locations:
- Lawrence County State Health Center, 106 Margaret St., New Castle
- Mercer County State Health Center, 25 McQuiston Dr., Jackson Center