‘Chase people, not the drug’

“How many people do you see raising money for addiction?” Roland Lamb said.

Roland Lamb, the deputy commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services’ division of Strategic Planning and Innovation has what he calls “Rolandisms,” which are his own philosophies in life. His main one currently is “Chase people, not the drug.”
Lamb discussed heavily with data the epidemic happening in the city, but also throughout the country. He said heroin and opioids are the drugs of the day, but a few years ago it was cocaine.

He also talked about the fact that the city also has a prescription drug problem and there has been an increase over the years in fentanyl-related deaths. Oxycodone is the top prescription opioid in terms of overdose.

“Alcohol is a big player in terms of overdose, primarily in combination with other drugs, like cocaine,” Lamb said. “It’s a deadly combination.”

Philadelphia, Lamb said, has the best prices of heroin, not only in the state, but in the nation.

The age-adjusted rate of drug poisoning deaths for Philadelphia increased from 26.6 to 33.3 percent per 100,000 people.

Mostly men are dying from overdoses. 72.4 percent are male and 27.6 percent are female.

“Addiction is a young person’s disease,” Lamb said. “My fear is we are going to look at 2016 and say we broke the 300-death mark.”

Lamb also discussed the different services available in the city, like Prevention Point, which is best known for its sterile syringe exchange program.

He added that its good that the city is beginning to pay attention to the epidemic, but there needs to be more done, like creating more halfway homes.

“Now we are addressing it and we need to be clear, we need to say everybody is important,” he said. “Everyone deserves to be seen and heard as a person. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, young or old, this will kill you and it’s getting worse.”

 

 

About the author

Emily Scott

Emily Scott is a junior journalism major and history minor at Temple University. She works as the Features Editor of The Temple News, editing and covering people, places and things around campus and the city. Contact Emily at tuf39703@temple.edu.

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By Emily Scott