The growing opioid epidemic

Listen 49:00
Kensington resident Roz Pichardo takes the contents out of her bag on April 27, 2019. Every day, Pichardo carries around harm reduction and emergency response supplies, like Narcan, a tourniquet, and a pulse oximeter. (Erin Blewett/Kensington Voice)

Kensington resident Roz Pichardo takes the contents out of her bag on April 27, 2019. Every day, Pichardo carries around harm reduction and emergency response supplies, like Narcan, a tourniquet, and a pulse oximeter. (Erin Blewett/Kensington Voice)

Opioid abuse was an epidemic in Philadelphia before COVID arrived, but sadly, things have gotten even worse. Drug overdoses rose 30% during the pandemic and in the city alone, over 1,000 people died from opioid use in 2020. Deaths have spiked among Black Philadelphians as opioid addiction has risen specifically communities of color. Experts say that fentanyl, the synthetic opioid, is largely to blame for the rising number of deaths and devastated lives. This hour, we look at the pandemic’s impact on the opioid crisis, why drug use and overdoses have increased and what treatments and resources are being mobilized. Joining us are ANDRE REID, an advocate and the founder of Lived Experience and the Philadelphia chapter of NAMA, NICOLE O’DONNELL, a peer counselor and recovery specialist, and JEANMARIE PERRONE, professor of emergency medicine and director of medical toxicology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

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