With funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy's Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) has launched a statewide overdose prevention website called OverdoseFreePA.

A pilot application is being developed for OverdoseFreePA that will allow the public to browse close-to-real-time overdose death statistics by categories such as gender, age, race, and type of drug. The pilot will begin by using the overdose death statistics from Allegheny County. Collaborators on the project include the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office, and the Single County Authorities of Allegheny, Butler, Bucks, Blair, Dauphin, Delaware and Westmoreland counties.

OverdoseFreePA provides presentations and educational curricula that are evidence-based and tailored to a number of target audiences, including the public, substance use disorder (SUD) treatment professionals, criminal justice system personnel, healthcare providers and more. The website also will include documents that describe how to effectively link high-risk individuals to SUD treatment and recovery, and strategies for building and maintaining community coalitions that address overdose prevention locally.

“Data from the National Center for Health Statistics indicate that drug-related deaths have skyrocketed across the nation in recent years, especially in Pennsylvania,” said PERU Director Janice Pringle. “The new website could help show Pennsylvanians the true effect of overdoses within their community and provide resources for increasing public awareness of the overdose risk and strategies for reducing this risk.

“These are deaths that didn’t have to happen,” she noted. “We can prevent them using compassionate approaches to addiction treatment and education, and by creating a unified front from which to approach the problem.”

The website is located here.

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