Philadelphia, PA - The Philadelphia Department of Public Health launched the second phase of an emotional media campaign that is part of the City’s effort to decrease deaths related to opioid use. The campaign contains a collection of stories in English and Spanish told by people whose lives have been forever changed by prescription painkillers. The Don’t Take the Risk website can be viewed in English and Spanish.
Philadelphia’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, said, “Too often the path to addiction starts with a prescription painkiller. To prevent people from becoming addicted, we hope to make it clear that opioids carry big risks, even if they are prescribed by doctors.”
The Don’t Take The Risk campaign features Philadelphians from all walks of life who have experienced addiction to prescription painkillers personally and who have lost loved ones from opioid overdose. The campaign will run on both cable and broadcast television as well as print and social media in the Philadelphia media market. The advertisements are scheduled to run through the end of May, 2017.
“I want our communities to know that the risk is too high,” said April Lee, one of the women featured in the campaign. “For so long I was in an endless loop of addiction. Now I share my story as a vision of hope for people to know recovery is possible.”
In 2017, approximately 1,200 people died from drug overdoses in Philadelphia, an increase of more than 30% from the previous year and nearly double the number of overdoses in 2015. Eighty percent of the deaths in 2016 involved opioids, including heroin and fentanyl. Thousands of non-fatal overdoses also occurred in Philadelphia, burdening the city’s emergency personnel and hospitals. Hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians may be at risk for long-term use, addiction and overdose through their use of prescription painkillers, which precedes heroin use for most new heroin users. The Health Department estimates that 168,000 people – or 1 in 7 – in Philadelphia currently take a prescription opioid painkiller. People can begin to show signs of withdrawal from opioids after taking them daily for as little as a week. Fatal overdose can occur if someone takes just a few pills at one time.
The Don’t Take the Risk campaign fulfills one of the 18 recommendations from the Mayor’s Task Force to Combat the Opioid Epidemic. Progress on these recommendations can be found in update reports published on www.phila.gov/opioids.