Heroin Addiction in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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The statistics of heroin abuse in Pittsburgh, PA, and the surrounding areas are astounding. Deaths from heroin overdose are on the rise. This article covers not only key statistics but includes an outline of DreamLife Recovery’s rehabilitation program.

The Volume of the Heroin Problem

Pennsylvania ranks 26th in national opioid abuse statistics. Heroin, a popular opioid, is often seized kilograms at a time (one kilogram is over 2.2 pounds). Not only this but Pennsylvania is a hub for distribution and sale of heroin throughout the Midwest and as far north as the New Jersey area. Prices vary but .02 grams of heroin can be bought for $10 dollars. That is .002 pounds of heroin, rounding the number in pounds down. Due to the low price and ease of access in Pennsylvania heroin is still a popular drug to abuse. This has necessitated drug rehabilitation clinics, especially in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County as a whole. DreamLife Recovery is amongst the number fighting this epidemic.  Click here to start your rehab journey.

Lethal Pittsburgh Overdoses on the Rise

According to the Pennsylvania Coroners Association, Haulk and Montarti say Allegheny County’s fatal overdose rate for all drugs in 2015 was 33.6 per 100,000 people, nearly double the national rate. Our state also faced lethal overdoses as double the national rate in 2016. Studies take time to come out so sometimes it is necessary to reference older data. The threat to our loved one’s lives remains the same. A total of 4,600 people died in 2016 from an overdose of drugs. These numbers exclude suicides even if drug addiction issues were the driving cause. The number of fatal overdoses in 2016 moved up to 4,642, a jump of 37%. Illicit and pharmaceutical opioids were responsible for 85% of overdose deaths in Pennsylvania. Drug rehab centers like DreamLife Recovery in Pittsburgh are at the forefront of this fight. 

Of the 414 overdose deaths in Allegheny County, the home county of Pittsburgh and fourteen colleges was up to 300 fatal overdoses as the result of either prescription painkillers or heroin. Tested samples of heroin from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia indicate that heroin sold within these cities is some of the purest and cheapest in the country. This poses a risk not only to people in the cities but to visitors who buy drugs here. The purer a drug is the fewer fillers in it. This means that you are (for example injecting) more heroin that you might realize if you do not know that that batch does not have as many fillers in it. This can be deadly. Fillers in drugs work the same way they do in food. The more filler per pound the less of the “desired” ingredient per pound of that batch. That means even if you are putting the same amount of product in your body the levels of heroin in the different batches differ and your body can only take a certain amount of heroin before you die. 

Demographic Breakdown; Who is at Risk?

Compared to women, men are more likely to die from street drug opiates like heroin. Women more often die from prescription opiates like oxycodone. What’s more, 77% of the drug abuse victims were white, 12% were Black, 4% were Hispanic, and 7% did not identify as White, Black, or Hispanic. These numbers represent the fatal overdose deaths. These are only the reported deaths. This statistic is affected by the lack of centralized data available to researchers. In other words, the number dead from drugs is likely much higher. It is important to remember that both illegal and pharmaceutically prescribed drugs can be opioids.

A Plan, Not Only for Rehab Clinics in PA but Around the World

Heroin is only one form of a class of drugs called opioids. At DreamLife Recovery, our drug rehabilitation clinic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania we use medical tapering. This groundbreaking treatment by Dr. Vincent D. Pole involves tapering a victim of drug abuse off the drug instead of suddenly starting detoxing them, making them go “cold turkey” by not giving them access to any maintenance drugs. Sudden detoxification is definitely not pleasant and leads to higher rates of relapse into drug abuse.

Detoxification is an essential part of rehabilitation. Detoxification gets the drugs out of the patient’s body so that emotional healing can begin. At DreamLife Rehabilitation Clinic we use methadone to help taper victims’ drug addiction off of drugs like heroin. Not only does this ease detoxification symptoms but it reduces the victim of addiction from engaging in risky behavior to obtain heroin or other drugs. On methadone a patient can spend their time in constructive ways like participating in therapy, working on their physical health, or even preparing to seek employment. You can learn more about the  plan and process here.

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This treatment was not available in the 1960s because there was no conclusive research as to how long the drug stayed in a person’s body. The initial research was transferred to Manhattan General Hospital in New York City, NY. Doctors at the Manhattan General Hospital found that treatment with methadone of 80 to 120 milligrams a day is optimal. In the 1970’s Dr. Jerome Jaffe made by then better-researched methadone a public health initiative. Dr. Jaffe was the head of the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention for the White House at the time. Our clinic in Pittsburgh has also extensively studied this plan and after careful consideration, we have adopted the method at our Pittsburgh rehab clinic.

Naltrexone is also in our arsenal of tools. It was brought into production in the 1980s. It is not to be confused with Narcan. Narcan is a widely used medication only used in emergency situations to reverse the symptoms of overdose. Our staff can advise you on whether you should keep Narcan with you to help your loved one if they overdose before they decide to start treatment. We can also advise you on how to procure it. Narcan is available over the counter in some parts of the United States. Naltrexone is now approved for the treatment of alcohol abuse as well. Naltrexone works by blocking the receptors in the brain that respond to opioids by releasing chemicals in the body that make the person feel good. Naltrexone blocks these feel-good effects of drugs. 

Medication-assisted detox at places like our Pennsylvania rehab clinic saves lives. Mixing even beneficial medications without supervision by medical staff can be deadly. At DreamLife Recovery, we have a professional staff that keeps you and your loved ones safe. Once more, detoxification and other recovery attempts when done without the supervision of trained, professional, medical staff can be dangerous. 

Other Reasons to Talk to Your Loved Ones

Neonatal opioid withdrawal occurs when a woman uses certain types of drugs during her pregnancy such as heroin and other opioids. The number of babies born with neonatal opioid withdrawal symptoms has skyrocketed from 1.5 hospital births per 1,000 hospital births to 8.0 per hospital births. In plainer words, a baby with neonatal opioid withdrawal is born every fifteen minutes. The infant is born drug-dependent (addicted) on the drug(s) the mother took during pregnancy.  This means the baby will have trouble feeding and learning. One symptom of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is difficulty learning even when the child is school-aged. The baby absorbs the drugs while in the womb as it takes in nutrients from its mother. 

Another problem that is related to heroin abuse is HIV and Hepatitis C infections resulting from shared injection devices like needles. 5.6% of HIV infections come from shared needles as opposed to contaminated needles causing 11.9% of the infections in women. In Pennsylvania, Hepatitis C is also a problem. The 2013-2016 average number of victims of Hepatitis C was 95,100. There is a newer treatment of Hepatitis C now that you might want to be aware of for yourself and your loved ones now that you are preparing to take the first step to recovery.

A Holistic Approach

Adventure Therapy

Adventure therapy is another proven helpful component in recovery. Adventure therapy is also known as wilderness therapy, activity-based counseling, or therapeutic excursions. Adventure therapy health professionals use activities that the patients perform like pitching a tent to relate to real-world experiences. Another example is helping a patient work out whether to gather firewood with the rest of the patients. This might not seem important but as mentioned earlier drugs numb many emotions that people have to use to deal with others whether in the real world or in a therapy setting. 

Some benefits of Adventure Therapy include: 

•    Increased ability to identify unhealthy habits and behaviors

•    Greater focus and attention

•    Decrease in denial

•    Increased sense of worthiness and personal value

•    More positive attitude

•    Greater awareness of personal strengths and weaknesses

A Path Out

Don’t become just one data point lost in a statistic of thousands. DreamLife Recovery is a rehab clinic in Pittsburgh, PA that is here to help you and your loved ones. Detoxification; family therapy; available partial hospitalization, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient treatment are all available to you at our clinic. 

At DreamLife Recovery, we have a top-quality residential treatment procedure. Patients will follow the steps of:

•    Admission to the clinic

•    An individualized treatment plan that takes into account your personal uniqueness

•    Detoxification

•    Counseling in both individual and group sessions

•    Aftercare to ensure that your recovery is permanent 

Family is encouraged to be there with you for support every step of the way. 

Partial hospitalization is often a component of treatment. Here we give you a stable routine and help you get better. The therapy components here are more robust. See more about the DreamLife Recovery partial hospitalization here.

Also available is our outpatient rehab clinics. Also, in Pittsburgh, PA. This setting is designed for people who have only been using opiates like heroin for a short amount of time. People who have been the victim of addiction for years often need the help of our partial hospitalization program to be successful. In our outpatient clinic, you will receive either three, five, or seven sessions a week. Sessions can be either during the day or at night. You will receive:

•    Counseling

•    Self-evaluate your own substance abuse patterns

•    Develop healthy sobriety strategies to prevent relapse

•    Education on drugs and drug use

Outpatient rehabilitation is also good for patients who have responsibilities that they might not be able to leave to others like child-rearing. Clients will also receive one hour of individual counseling per week.

Our aftercare treatment plan helps the victim of drug addiction keep control of their lives after treatment. 

Information on Drug Treatment Near Pittsburgh

If you or anyone you know is abusing drugs there is help available. At the DreamLife Recovery drug rehab clinic located near Pittsburgh, PA we are serious about helping you and your loved ones start and follow through the road to recovery.

Drug addiction is a serious disease and treatment should not be delayed. Please contact DreamLife Recovery or call (844) 402-3592


  1. “Analysis of Overdose Deaths in Pennsylvania, 2016” – DEA Philadelphia, University of Pittsburgh; July 2017
  2. “Drug overdose epidemic has been growing exponentially for decades” – Science News, University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences; 20 September, 2018
  3. “The Opioid Threat in Pennsylvania” – DEA Philadelphia, University of Pittsburgh; September 2018
  4. Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. 6, Methadone maintenance treatment. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310658/