Pennsylvania Data Shows Opioid Misuse Among Youth Throughout State

Pennsylvania released data on “opioid misuse among youth.” The report included information from the Pennsylvania Youth Survey and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

by Lori Falce, Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.) / August 2, 2017
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(TNS) -- Two recent reports are taking a look at the stats for Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis on a county by county basis.

The numbers are better for Centre County than for its neighbors.

On Thursday, Pennsylvania released data on “opioid misuse among youth.” The report included information from the Pennsylvania Youth Survey and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which detailed kids’ attitudes toward prescription opioids and how much access young people have to them.

“This information is good news,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “Youth and young adults appear to understand the significant danger of addiction and possible death from the misuse of opioids.”

According to the report, 1 percent of Pennsylvania youth said they misused opioids within a 30-day period. The average rate was 3 percent. Centre was the lowest of its neighbors and one of the lowest reported rates in the state.

Surrounding counties were mixed. Mifflin and Clinton counties omitted data and Union did not participate. Blair and Huntingdon counties showed 2 percent of its kids indicating misuse in a month. Clearfield, at 3 percent, was among the highest in the state.

“Overall, a greater percentage of youths in the western half of Pennsylvania, which tends to have more rural counties, indicated a higher percentage of 30-day prescription opioid misuse compared to the eastern half of the state, which tends to have more urban counties,” the report stated.

Centre County fell in the North Central District of the state for the test, which showed a 6.3 percent lifetime misuse, second only to the South East for lowest use. Clearfield County, on the other side of the creek, falls in the Northwest District, with the highest lifetime use at 7.3 percent of kids reporting they have misused prescription opioids.

The good news? More kids think opioids are dangerous.

According to the study, 87.8 percent of North Central District kids are reporting a disapproving attitude toward peers misusing the drugs, and 83.3 percent both think the drugs are risky themselves and think their friends disapprove.

In Centre County, 85 percent of young people reported a “moderate to great perceived risk of harm.” That was above both the district average and the state figure of 75 percent.

Huntingdon’s disapproval rate was even higher, at 86 percent. Blair came in at 84 percent and Clearfield at 83 percent. Mifflin and Clinton again omitted data and Union did not participate.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta also issued a recent report looking at how much opioids are prescribed across the country down to a county level.

Centre County is the one of the brightest spots in Pennsylvania according to the study, with less than 453.5 morphine milligram equivalents prescribed per capita in 2015. Most of the state falls between 453.6-957.8 mme.

But just to the south in Blair and Cambria counties, the numbers spike to 957.9-5,543 mme.

“At a time when Pennsylvania is losing 13 people each day to the opioid crisis, everyone must get involved,” Wolf said. “We need parents, schools, faith-based and community initiatives to work with us in government to talk, teach and model evidence-based prevention methods to educate about and stop misuse of opioids. Prevention is the key.”

©2017 the Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.