FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa - The Pennsylvania State Coroners Association recently released a report that said in 2014, more than 2,000 people died as a result of drug-related overdose deaths. The coroner's association said with initial data for 2015, the numbers will continue to increase.
"They just don’t realize or understand how easily they can become addicted, it is a slippery slope and once you start down on that road, it is really hard to turn back," said Lauri Ryder, drug and alcohol prevention specialist, Franklin and Fulton Drug and Alcohol Program.
According to the Franklin County Coroners office, in this year alone they have seen four drug-related overdose deaths.
"We are not even into the busy season yet. Five months into the year and we are seeing numbers that when you multiply them out by the number of months, I think they will be significant from last year," Ryder said.
Police said a contributing factor is the area's connection to major highways.
"This area is very prone to drug abuse and trafficking due to our proximity to I-81 and I-70. Those are direct lines to our major drug areas in the Baltimore and Philadelphia area, connecting with the Pennsylvania Turnpike," said Trooper Edward Asbury, Pennsylvania State Police.
Ryder said prescription drugs and synthetic marijuana are also becoming major issues to combat this year.
"This week I was doing assemblies with third and fourth graders, and we were talking about prescription medication and how to take it properly and the importance of that, so you have to start early and you have to get that message going and get it out to people," Ryder said.
Legislation recently passed in the state that allows first responders, family and friends the ability to administer naloxone, a potentially life-saving opioid reversal medication, to individuals experiencing an overdose.
An opioid prevention town hall meeting for Franklin and Fulton counties is set for July. Medication collection boxes are also available in Franklin and Fulton counties.