Roland Lamb, Deputy Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, visited our class last Tuesday to discuss a wide range of topics regarding the swell of opioid linked drug overdoses within the Philadelphia area. Lamb began his presentation by providing an assortment of statistical accounts explaining where and why so many drug overdoses are occurring. According to Lamb’s findings, overdose deaths increased a whopping 53% between the years 2013 and 2015 and continue to rise to this day. Not surprising considering Philadelphia has the most potent and least expensive heroin in the nation, most of which is coming in from South America. However, beyond the consistent flow of overdoses linked to street bought heroin is the increase of drug overdoses linked to prescription drug abuse. Herein lies a huge problem concerning doctors, who are generally inexperienced in the realm of addiction, overprescribing pain medication. In many cases, these doctors have little to no in-depth knowledge of the disease, despite the huge increase in patients hospitalized for pain medication. Lamb believes doctors are a major factor in all of this and should respond accordingly.
Lamb goes on to discuss Narcan and the impact of stigma on the opioid epidemic. Narcan comes in two forms, the Narcan needle kit, and the nasal spray Narcan. Though both forms have the same effect, most people prefer the nasal spray and feel more comfortable administering the Narcan this way. According to Lamb, most police officers are not required to carry Narcan, though it is readily available and provided to them in certain districts of Philadelphia. Nearing the end of his presentation Lamb discuss the influence of stigma on the way people perceive this issue. At the end of the day, many people are either too ashamed to call for help or to discuss the problem, and Lamb amongst others think this mentality needs to change if we are going to make a difference.