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The Facts


There were:

  • 551 drug-related overdose deaths last year in Pittsburgh; and a
  • 37% increase in overdose deaths in the Pittsburgh area in 2015


Heroin Abuse:

  • 1 in 5 high school seniors know how to get heroin easily.
  • The vast majority of teens do not use heroin. In a 2016 national survey, only 0.3% of 12th graders used heroin in the past year.[1] 
  • 95.5 percent of 12th graders disapprove of taking heroin occasionally.[1]
  • Recent trends indicate that heroin use is increasing among young adults aged 18 to 25. In 2015, over half a million people (12 or older) reported having a heroin use disorder.[2]

Prescription Drug Abuse:

  • Prescription opioid analgesics, specifically those containing oxycodone and hydrocodone, are the most common types of prescription drugs that are diverted for misuse and abused.
  • Each day in the United States, over 144 people die as a result of a drug overdose.[3] 
  • In 2015, an estimated 3.8 million people (aged 12 or older) reported current misuse of pain relievers.[2]  
  • 53% of nonmedical users (12 years or older) reported receiving the prescription drugs they most recently used “from a friend or relative for free.”[4] 


 An analysis of drug-related overdose deaths in Western Pennsylvania for 2015 identified the following:

  • Allegheny County, containing the city of Pittsburgh, reported 326 drug-related overdose deaths in 2015
    • This represents a 43 percent increase over a 5-year period (2010-2015).
  • Westmoreland County reported 113 drug-related overdose deaths in 2015.
    • This represents a 98 percent increase over a 5-year period (2010-2015).
  • Washington County reported 66 drug-related overdose deaths in 2015
    • 51 percent were classified as a “heroin-related” death.
    • The total number of overdose deaths for 2015 represents a 78 percent increase from 2014.
  • Butler County reported 46 drug-related overdose deaths in 2015.
    • This represents a 35.3 percent increase from 2014.


(U) Figure 1: 2015 Drug-Related Overdose Deaths and Percentage Change from 2014 in Four Western Pennsylvania Counties

Source: Pennsylvania Medical Examiners and Coroners and DEA

1 Source: University of Michigan, 2016 Monitoring the Future Study. View source here.

2 Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, September 2016.  View source here.

3 Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States, 2010–2015 . View source here. 

4 Source: Prescription Drug Use and Misuse in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, September 2016.  View source here.