Plan updates progress and ongoing City efforts to address the overdose crisis.

PHILADELPHIA – The City of Philadelphia today released its comprehensive 2023 Overdose Response Action Plan, updating the administration’s ongoing efforts to address the overdose crisis in Philadelphia. With $20 million in new, strategic investments from opioid settlement funds announced at the beginning of the year, the City outlines its plan to prevent overdoses, expand access to treatment, and increase community-based supports for impacted communities.  

In recent years, fatal overdose deaths in Philadelphia have continued to rise, reflecting national trends.  The overdose crisis is ongoing and evolving, particularly due to increasing polysubstance use and changes in the illicit drug supply contributing to higher risk of overdose. In addition, racial disparities in unintentional overdose deaths continue to widen, emphasizing the need for Philadelphia to build on an equitable, community-based response citywide.  

“The 2023 Overdose Response Action Plan represents the City’s commitment towards saving lives and investing in the health and well-being of communities impacted by the overdose crisis through a comprehensive, holistic response across departments, social services providers, public safety and community partners,” said Managing Director Tumar Alexander.  “Philadelphians are hurting, and improving the conditions that put residents at risk for overdose is critical. The City’s efforts to address systemic issues and improve social determinants of health are vital to preventing overdose fatalities and the risks associated with substance misuse. Fatal overdoses and substance-use-related harms are preventable. Substance use disorder is treatable, and recovery is possible.” 

The 2023 Overdose Response Action Plan, available online, includes: 

  • Overview of Key Progress in 2022 and current Action Items for 2023. 
  • Updates on the City’s coordinated efforts across departments to prevent overdoses, expand access to treatment, improve public safety and support communities impacted by the overdose crisis in Philadelphia.  
  • Overview of recent fatal overdose trends and the challenges driving community disparities citywide. 

Notable actions in the City’s overdose response for 2023 include: 

  • Expanding culturally affirming community outreach and engagement citywide, ensuring impacted Black and Latino/a Philadelphians have equitable access to needed resources and services.  
  • Launching mobile methadone citywide, making life-saving treatment for substance use disorder available on the street. 
  • Disrupting the open-air drug markets in Kensington through Drug Market Intervention (DMI), in partnership with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and the National Network for Safe Communities.  
  • Investing $20M in opioid settlement dollars towards new, evidence-based initiatives that support impacted communities and meet residents where they are through expanded community-based mobile services.  
  • Increasing the number of permanent and supportive housing opportunities to support people experiencing homelessness at different stages of recovery. 
  • Expanding harm reduction services and education citywide, including syringe exchange, naloxone, and fentanyl strip distribution. 

“We are deeply grateful for the community’s continued collaboration and leadership in our efforts to improve health, well-being, and quality of life for residents and families in neighborhoods across the city that are impacted by the overdose crisis,” said Noelle Foizen, director of the Opioid Response Unit. “None of this work is possible without maintaining an open dialogue with community members who continue to hold the City accountable, and ongoing commitment to ensuring Philadelphians with lived experience directly inform and participate in our efforts.” 

The plan also highlights key progress made this past year, including: 

  • The Managing Director’s Office launched the Overdose Prevention and Community Healing Fund, a $3.5M grantmaking program that mobilizes community-based organizations as trusted community messengers to bring prevention resources to impacted communities. 
  • The Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) launched the first licensed mobile wound care van in Pennsylvania in response to xylazine, an animal tranquilizer, and treated 1,254 patients for severe wounds. 
  • The Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) installed the first Naloxone Near Me Tower, a vending machine that allows residents to access free naloxone available 24/7, in West Philadelphia.  
  • The Office of Homeless Services and DBHIDS completed the 100 Day Challenge initiative in Kensington that resulted in more than 400 individuals accessing housing and treatment services through streamlined efforts across 20+ providers.  
  • PDPH launched the first pop-up Overdose Memorial Garden in Center City for families to honor loved ones lost to overdose, and continues to accept submissions to its virtual memorial

The full report is available online


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