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Photo by Dream Weaver // CC BY 2.0

In the face of rapidly rising rates of opioid addiction, Penn students and faculty are scaling up efforts to fight the epidemic. 

University doctors, clinical researchers, students, faculty and alumni are working to address opioid abuse across Philadelphia, which was ranked fifth in the country in 2016  for overdose deaths per 100,000 people. Last year, 907 people in the city died from drug overdoses, according to a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

To address this problem, Fellows of the Penn Center for Public Health Initiatives are working with Philadelphia-area medical workers at Prevention Point. University news site Penn Current calls Prevention Point a “multiservice public health organization” that offers shelter, medical consultations and recovery plans to Philadelphia residents.

Mara Gordon, a 2015 Perelman School of Medicine graduate, told Penn Current that her work on the opioid crisis has changed her life. Gordon said that her work at Prevention Point has "100 percent influenced what I want to do in the future.”

Others at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and across Penn’s health departments have been working to optimize doctor-to-patient relationships and prescriptive procedures to reduce the flood of opioids on the market. 

Earlier this year, Emergency Medicine professors Jeanmarie Perrone and Zachary Meisel worked on Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney's task force to tackle opioid addiction, helping to craft a list of recommendations for various stakeholders to combat addiction. 

But, Penn doctors and medical students aren't the only ones working to tackle addiction in the city. In February, the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the Penn Law School published a report on the connection between opioid addiction and post-traumatic stress in veterans.

As the opioid epidemic continues to worsen across the country, Penn students and alumni are hopeful that the University can help lead Philadelphia out of the crisis. 

“Penn tends to lead the way during major health crises," Meisel told Penn Current, "so why shouldn’t we be the leader now?"