A Guide to Philadelphia Addiction Treatment

Philadelphia Drug Overdose Statistics

According to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)2 Pennsylvania had the fourth-highest rate of accidental drug overdose deaths in 2017 in the nation.

Statistics also indicate that Philadelphia had the second-highest rate of drug overdose deaths in 20163, second only to Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh. The statistics also reveal that more than 80% of those deaths were related to opioid abuse.

An Increase in Overdose

A separate analysis published by the CDC4 revealed that the total fatalities caused by drug overdoses increased across the nation by 21.5 percent from 2015 to 2016. In the same period, the number of overdoses caused by prescription opioid painkiller medications increased by 10.6 percent. By comparison, cocaine-related overdose deaths increased by a massive 52.4 percent.

The Threat of Fentanyl

A report published by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Bulletin5 shows that the most dangerous drug threat in Pennsylvania in 2017 was caused by fentanyl. Around 66 percent of accidental overdose deaths in 2017 were attributed to the presence of fentanyl, up from 44 percent of deaths in 2016.

When the statistics were cross-referenced, the DEA also found that 33 percent of people who died from drug overdose in 2017 tested positive for both fentanyl and cocaine.

Why is Fentanyl Overdose Increasing?

The DEA confirms that the increased presence of fentanyl in overdose deaths was likely caused by a number of different factors. Fentanyl is known to be around 100 times more potent than morphine and around 50 times more potent than heroin. The higher potency levels of the drug increase the risk of overdose dramatically.

A secondary factor is linked to dealers ‘cutting’ heroin and cocaine with fentanyl before it is being sold on the streets. In most cases, buyers of the drugs aren’t aware that fentanyl is present in the drug being purchased, further increasing the risk of overdose.

What’s Being Done to Address Philadelphia’s Drug Problem?

A report provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)6 classifies Philadelphia as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). The report also outlines some major initiatives and projects in place designed to help address the serious drug problem in the area.

Stopping Drug Trafficking

The Domestic Highway Enforcement Project aims directly at stemming the flow of illicit drugs into Philadelphia by monitoring known drug smuggling corridors and traffic stops.

Educational Programs for Prevention

Authorities are also working closely with the Philadelphia Police Department on an educational program known as the Heads-Up Prevention Program to increase awareness in children attending middle and high school of the consequences of drug abuse and involvement with gangs.

Community Prevention

The report also recognizes that local drug problems require realistic local solutions. As a result, Philadelphia has implemented a ‘Drug Free Community’ (DFC) organization, designed to encourage communities to prevent drug use in young people by using specific strategies to reduce drug abuse and increase awareness of the consequences of experimenting with drugs.

Why Is Addiction Treatment Necessary?

t’s common to underestimate the importance of specialized addiction rehab treatments. In fact, many people believe that a person struggling with addiction can use willpower and quit by going ‘cold turkey’.

What those people don’t realize is that addiction is a chronic disease of the brain characterized by occasional relapses. If someone struggling with substance abuse had a different type of chronic health condition, such as asthma or type 2 diabetes, those around them would work to ensure that they were getting the best possible treatment available. If any symptoms of asthma or diabetes were to recur, or if the person relapsed, the family members would rush to find more treatments and medications to ensure the person’s health was back on track.

The exact same principle is true of addiction.

A person struggling with addiction needs professional treatment at a specialist rehab drug addiction treatment facility. A comprehensive addiction treatment program uses a specific combination of treatments, medications and therapies designed to address both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.

Why Can’t You Detox from Drugs or Alcohol At Home?

When a person tries to quit an addictive substance suddenly, the brain can’t adapt to the lack of the substance’s presence in the system. The result usually shows up as severely painful withdrawal symptoms.The Dangers of Detoxing Alone

Depending on the type of drug being taken, some people may also be at risk of developing symptoms that could be dangerous or even potentially life threatening, requiring emergency medical assistance. Some of the more dangerous symptoms of withdrawal might include seizures, coma, paranoid delusions, extreme aggression, profound depression, suicidal ideation, and suicidal tendencies.

Another serious problem with detoxing at home that most people underestimate is the risk of accidental overdose.The Effect of Tolerance

When a person has been abusing drugs or alcohol over a period of time, it’s common to develop a level of tolerance to the substance. Tolerance simply means the person needs to take higher doses or drink larger volumes to achieve the same effects that used to be reached with smaller amounts.

However, detox occurs for a few days and abstinence is acquired, the body’s tolerance levels are reduced. If that person relapses back into former patterns of use and tries to take similar doses that were being taken before, the risk of accidental overdose increases significantly.

Choosing the Right Addiction Treatment Program Around Philadelphia

Before deciding which rehab center to check into, it’s important to understand the types of rehab programs available and how they might benefit you. After all, not all addiction rehab programs are the same.

Many rehab centers will offer medically supervised detox programs, individual counseling sessions and group support meetings. The types of alternative therapies offered may differ, depending on which rehab program you choose.

Be sure to check the types of treatments and therapies available during treatment, but also take the time to learn more about the level of support offered after the recovering person is discharged from rehab too.

What Happens During Philadelphia Addiction Treatment?


Before treatment can begin, an addiction specialist will assess every person entering into rehab. In order to ensure each person gets the correct type of treatment for their individual needs, it’s important to assess certain things that include:

  • The type of substance being taken
  • The length of time the person has been taking the substance
  • The severity of the physical dependency or addiction
  • The dosage being taken before treatment commences
  • Whether the person is abusing more than one substance (polydrug abuse)
  • Whether the person is taking any prescription medications to treat known health conditions
  • Whether there are any cooccurring mental health disorders that also need to be treated simultaneously (dual diagnosis)

When every factor has been assessed, it’s possible to tailor the right combination of treatments to improve that person’s outcome through recovery.


All addiction treatment programs begin with the detox process.

To ensure the person’s safety, it’s important that the detox process is conducted under medical supervision. Prescription medications may be given to help reduce the severity of any withdrawal symptoms that emerge and make the detox process easier to manage.

Most people assume treatment ends when detox is complete. However, detox only eliminates the effects of the substance from the body and helps to break the body’s physical dependency on the drug. On its own, detox does nothing to address the underlying psychological triggers behind addiction.

Comprehensive Treatment

When detox is complete, the person in recovery enters into a comprehensive treatment program that includes individual counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, group support meetings, and a range of alternative or holistic therapies.

Each day in rehab is highly structured, including pre-scheduled therapy sessions, group meetings and meal times. Sticking to a strict daily structure helps develop and establish healthy new routines that can be maintained even after returning to independent living.Therapy

Each type of therapy is designed to begin addressing some of the underlying psychological reasons behind addictive behavior. Counseling also begins working to develop a strong relapse prevention strategy that works for each person’s individual triggers.

Aside from using positive, evidence-based methods to begin addressing the psychological side of addiction, therapy also aims to discover each person’s own individual motivation to make a positive change in their own lives.Group Support

Regular attendance at group support meetings is also integrated into treatment programs at luxury rehab centers. Participating in group meetings helps reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Recovering people also have the opportunity to begin building new social connections away from former acquaintances associated with substance abuse.

The objective of group support meetings is to help provide motivation to remain abstinent, but also to provide a valuable source of peer support. After all, everyone at the meeting is experiencing similar challenges throughout their own recovery.Alternative Therapies

Along with a variety of traditional rehab therapies and treatments, most luxury rehab centers also integrate a range of alternative or holistic therapies into a treatment program. Alternative therapies teach recovering people natural, healthy ways to cope with cravings, manage stress, and reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression that can be prevalent during recovery.

Some common alternative therapies might include exercise programs, meditation sessions, yoga classes, art therapy, equine or animal therapy, nutritional therapy, biofeedback, or acupuncture. Not everyone responds the same way to the same types of alternative therapies, but it’s important to try each of them to assess which ones yield the best results.

Sober Activities

Along with attending therapy sessions, medical check-ups, and alternative therapy classes, most rehab programs also include the opportunity to join in with a variety of sober activities. For example, on some days various trips may be planned outside of the rehab center for shopping or hiking or other activities.

Ongoing Recovery

For many people in recovery, the methods and activities learned during recovery can be taken with them after being discharged from rehab. For example, it’s common for many people in recovery to keep up with exercise programs or yoga classes, while others may continue to participate with art therapy or other forms of non-verbal creative therapies long into the future.

Addiction Treatment Aftercare Programs

Just because treatment has ended and the person in recovery has been discharged from rehab doesn’t mean that support through recovery should end. A good addiction rehab center should also offer a range of aftercare programs too.

Aftercare programs are designed to provide ongoing support and motivation for those who have completed a comprehensive addiction treatment program. The actual types of aftercare programs each person needs will vary, depending on their own individual circumstances.

Some common aftercare programs might include:

Intensive outpatient rehab programs:

After spending time in an inpatient luxury rehab center, some people may need the ongoing structure and scheduling provided by stepping down to an outpatient program. The person in recovery still needs to check in with an addiction specialist each day to attend counseling, therapy or group meetings, but is able to return home when treatments are finished for the day.

Sober living homes:

Some people leaving rehab may not be ready to return to an environment that was already conducive to substance abuse. In these cases, people are encouraged to reside temporarily in sober living homes. Also known as halfway houses, living in a sober living home allows people in recovery to continue developing healthy daily routines and self care practices learned during their time in rehab. Clients can attend work or enroll in study courses or school or participate in other types of recreational activities.


Some people may find they need to continue the work started in counseling sessions even after they leave rehab. Aftercare programs provide access to individual counseling sessions and group counseling therapy.

Group meetings:

Almost every city hosts a variety of different group support meetings. These might include traditional 12 step groups such as AA or NA, or non-secular groups such as SMART Recovery.

Alternative therapies:

Many people discover a range of benefits when participating in alternative therapies during rehab. After leaving rehab, having access to the alternative therapies that yielded results is a big advantage for many people in recovery. 

If you or someone you know is caught in the grip of drug or alcohol addiction, the first step to recovery is reaching out and asking for help. The right addiction treatment program could help you begin your journey to recovery.