Overdoses in Philly and York County Draw DEA's Attention to Pennsylvania

By Dorri Olds 12/07/16

Three people died of suspected heroin overdoses in York County last Wednesday.

Overdoses in Philly and York County Draw DEA's Attention to Pennsylvania
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Drug overdose deaths continue to soar in York County, Pennsylvania. Last Wednesday, Nov. 30, three males died from suspected heroin overdoses, possibly laced with fentanyl. The fatalities occurred during the span of five hours in three different sections of the county. Two were found dead in their homes, the third was rushed to a hospital where he could not be revived.

Chief deputy prosecutor of the York County District Attorney’s Office, Dave Sunday, said three police precincts became involved: York City Police, Springettsbury Township Police and Pennsylvania State Police.

The York Daily Record quoted Alyssa Rohrbaugh, vice president of the non-profit organization, Not One More: “If you’re a drug addict, you could have a court date coming up, something could not be going right with a relationship ... these kids that have an addiction, some of them work through it. I have a lot of success stories. But some kids ... it doesn’t matter if you have a strong family background. It doesn’t matter if you have money or don’t have money. We’re seeing relapses where kids have parents who are completely, 100 percent there for them.”

This year alone, there have been 50 heroin-related overdoses in York County and another 16 are suspected, including the three last Wednesday.

A chilling statement was made by Patrick Trainor, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), “There is no greater endorsement for a heroin dealer than when his or her product is responsible for a high number of overdoses,” he said. “It drives demand through the roof.”

Trainor told the Daily Record that the three overdoses, in addition to the nearly 50 overdoses that occurred in Philadelphia in November, caught the attention of the DEA and is "of great concern" to the agency.

The numbers for York County are staggering. There were 127 heroin-related overdose deaths between 2014 and 2015. Of those, 94 were males and 33, females. The most overdoses included between the ages 17 to 28. The second highest group was ages 29 through 41. The majority of deaths happened within the drug users’ homes. In 14% of the fatal ODs, fentanyl was involved.

Thankfully, many would-be tragedies are now being avoided through the widespread availability of Narcan (naloxone), which can now be purchased at any pharmacy in the commonwealth, with or without insurance, and doesn’t require a prescription.

York Dispatch reported that on Monday, Physician General Rachel Levine and Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs Gary Tennis filled prescriptions for the life-saving drug at Minnich’s Pharmacy located in York.

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.