From NBC10 Philadelphia
An alarming number of drug overdoses has officials in one Bucks County township gearing up for a fight.
In the past month, 63 people have overdosed in Bensalem, Pa. on opioid drugs
like heroin and prescription pain killers
that include oxycodone and vicodin says township Director of Public Safety Fred Harran.
While heroin is widely known as a dangerous and severely addictive narcotic that’s long been a target of the war on drugs, Harran says it’s the prescription painkillers that are a bigger source of concern.
Between 80 and 90-percent of the crimes committed in the town are tied in one way to drugs, according to Harran. He says the drug seekers are both a mix of local residents and visitors traveling to the town to get high.
Harran and other public safety officials have been meeting to determine an attack plan to cut down on drug use and availability. The director says he’s not ready to release every detail about the plan, but said the department’s actions would be "groundbreaking."
A new report released on Monday from the Trust for America’s Health found Pennsylvania has the 14th highest rate of drug overdose deaths. The report found the Commonwealth had 15.3 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents in 2010. Most of those deaths involved the use of prescription drugs.
In Philadelphia, city officials have seen what they call a startling spike in addiction rates, deaths and confiscations by police of opioids like prescription pills and heroin.
Nationally, drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug overdose deaths have jumped 102-percent from 1999 to 2010 and as of the last reporting in 2010, 60-percent of those deaths were related to pharmaceuticals.
The CDC also found that of the 38,329 overdose deaths in 2010 that involved pharmaceuticals, 75-percent involved some form of opioid.