On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health launched a new campaign designed to discourage opioid use and show the ways in which the epidemic has already taken and touched many lives in the city.
Produced in both English and Spanish, the video and website for Don’t Take the Risk features the testimonies of a number of people who were formerly addicted to opioids, as well as family members who have lost loved ones.
From April, who became addicted after being prescribed painkillers for back pain and was homeless for a period of time, to Emilio, who fell into drug use as a teenager and started selling drugs and committing petty crimes until Narcotics Anonymous helped him get clean 20 years ago, the campaign features the stories of 12 different individuals to show the ways in which opioids have affected city residents of all backgrounds and walks of life.
Don’t Take the Risk fulfills one of the 18 recommendations made by the Mayor’s Task Force to Combat the Opioid Crisis in a May 2017 report. The strategy laid out by the task force encompasses how, through prevention and education, treatment, and overdose prevention, the city can combat the epidemic opioid use that has played a significant role in deaths from drug overdose in Philadelphia, which in 2017 grew to 1,200 people — nearly double the number of deaths from drug overdose in the city in 2015.
Philadelphia is one of the areas that has felt what is a national opioid epidemic most acutely, receiving national and international attention for the severity of the crisis. In 2016, Philadelphia ranked second in drug overdose deaths among U.S. counties with populations over one million, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 46 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents were recorded, the majority of which involved opioids.