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Vital Strategies and the Pennsylvania Department of Health Raise Awareness for Naloxone To Save Lives, Combat Stigma for People Affected by Substance Use

Department of Health Raises Awareness for Naloxone To Save Lives, Combats Stigma for People Affected by Substance Use

May 12, 2022 (Harrisburg, PA) – The Department of Health this week launched a media campaign to raise awareness, minimize the barriers and counter stigma faced by Pennsylvanians who are at risk of a drug overdose. 

“The Wolf Administration remains steadfast in the fight against opioids and the campaign is another example of that commitment,” said Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Denise Johnson. “We are working to do everything in our power to protect Pennsylvanians through awareness, education and support. By sharing real stories about real people right in our communities, we believe this media campaign will help tackle the stigma of addiction and promote the use of Naloxone to save lives.”

Materials for the campaign will feature stories from people who have been affected by substance use to emphasize why everyone should get naloxone today. This campaign will run throughout the summer and is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Campaign materials were developed in collaboration with Vital Strategies and with funding support from the Bloomberg Philanthropies Overdose Prevention Initiative.

“There is a tragic and preventable overdose crisis in our country, and we know that making naloxone widely available is one of the most effective strategies to reducing deaths,” said Daliah Heller, Director of Drug Use Initiatives at Vital Strategies. “We applaud the Department of Health for this moving ad campaign, featuring Pennsylvanians touched by the overdose crisis, who disseminate naloxone and offer critical information, hope, and dignity for people who use drugs.”

By decreasing stigma around opioid use disorder and naloxone through this campaign, the department will elevate other naloxone efforts underway. This would include highlighting the naloxone standing order, which allows individuals to obtain naloxone at their local pharmacy or through other community-based organizations. Additionally, it will highlight the work of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), Department of Aging and the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency who are also authorized to distribute naloxone throughout the state, including the mail-order naloxone program, the naloxone co-pay assistance program offered through PACE, and the naloxone for first responders’ program.

Recently, Dr. Johnson expanded the Naloxone standing order and the department updated available training materials.

The Department of Health continues to share important data regarding the overdose epidemic on the department’s interactive data report, including overall trends in drug overdose surveillance data at the state and county levels, as well as trends among various demographic categories.

For more information on Naloxone in Pennsylvania, please visit www.pa.gov/opioids.

See the campaign materials here.

Media Contact: Mark O’Neill, Health, ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov