Source: The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, Heroin: Combating this Growing Epidemic in Pennsylvania, 2014

The heroin epidemic isn’t just a problem for people in active addiction or law enforcement. It’s a public health problem for the entire community. 


Click Here



  • Learn more about the disease of addiction. Be informed.
  • If you’re using illegal drugs, or abusing prescription medications, get help. It’s available. Choose to get it.
  • Recognize the signs of addiction.
  • Talk with your kids about the dangers of illegal drugs, prescription medications, and alcohol. If they have a substance abuse problem, address it. Don’t minimize it or ignore it. Get help dealing with your family member.
  • Find out if your child’s school is prepared to handle opioid overdoses.
  • If a family member or friend is at risk of overdosing from heroin or another opioid, obtain the overdose reversal medication naloxone.
  • Keep your prescription medications, particularly opioids, in a secure location. Properly dispose of unused medications. Seventy-five percent of young people who misuse prescription painkillers (opioids) get them from friends and family, not doctors.
  • Report suspicious activity to police.
  • Many communities have neighborhood watch groups. If yours does, join it. If it doesn’t, start one.
  • Join or start a drug prevention coalition in your community.
  • Contact your senator, congressman and state representative requesting more funding for treatment.
  • Distribute heroin awareness materials at appropriate community venues and events.
  • Attend Heroin Hits Home related events, and find out how you can help solve the opioid problem.
  • Complete online training in the administration of the opioid overdose medication naloxone by clicking here or here.


  • Maintain a drug-free workplace. Visit Drug Free Workplace PA for more information.
  • Don’t tolerate drug usage, but keep in mind that addiction is a disease. Learn more about the disease. And treat addicted employees with compassion. Drug addiction and alcoholism are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). Employers have certain responsibilities under ADA or PHRA.
  • Keep a supply of naloxone at the workplace in case of an opioid overdose.
  • Establish an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
  • Download the “Workplace Toolkit”.


Healthcare Professionals

The healthcare industry is involved in treatment of drug addiction through rehab facilities. It must, however, be involved early in the process. Heroin addiction often has its genesis in prescription opioid addiction. The Surgeon General of the Unites States has called upon the medical profession to help end the opioid crisis. Opioid prescribing guidelines specific to various medical specialties are being developed. The goal, as set forth by Pennsylvania Physician General Rachel Levine is to prescribe less opioids. (For chronic pain, non-pharmacological medical treatments must be considered. Complementary pain treatments, such as yoga, massage therapy and mindful meditation also need to be explored.) When physicians do prescribe opioids, they need to educate patients about proper use and disposal.

Pennsylvania has recently implemented its Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PA-PDMP). The program requires dispensers and pharmacies to enter prescriptions for controlled substances into an electronic database. Physicians must check the database prior to prescribing a controlled substance. PA-PDMP helps identify patients struggling with substance abuse, and get them the treatment they need. It also helps eliminate “doctor shopping” ­– patients going from doctor to doctor to obtain opioid prescriptions.

To help prevent fatal overdoses, Pennsylvania is making the opioid-reversal medication naloxone more widely available. Not just to medical personnel, but also to law enforcement and other first responders, as well as anyone who has contact with persons at risk for opioid overdose. After naloxone is administered, the patient is sent to the emergency room for further treatment. It is important to refer the patient to substance abuse treatment prior to release.