PA Residents Seek New Forms of Opioid Use-Disorder Treatment

Today, opioid addiction is on the rise. Drug overdose deaths rose 30 percent in 2020, and in 2019, an estimated 10.1 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids. The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t help matters, with mental health issues skyrocketing and overdose rates spiking in the early-middle months of the pandemic.

With increasing drug and opioid use, Pennsylvania, like the rest of the country, is going through its worst public health crisis in over three decades. Currently, 316,000 Pennsylvania residents are living with some form of drug use disorder. Even more concerningly, in 2020, 4,715 Pennsylvanians lost their lives to drug overdose, which is more than four times the number of automobile accident-related deaths during the same time.

How people with opiod use disorder in PA seek treatment?

PA Opioid Hotline/Year (2019) (Source)

With opioids accounting for approximately 70% percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2018, and a further 34,920 ER visits since the beginning of 2018, the spotlight is on opioid use.

As in many states in the U.S., access to opioid addiction treatment in Pennsylvania can feel out of reach for many patients. Across the state, with an estimated population of 12.8 million, there are only 104 treatment centers. And access aside, issues like stigma, barriers, and even a lack of information further impact the trend in Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis.

How PA residents seek out OUD treatment

We know that despite its prevalence, addiction is still largely stigmatized and confusing – making it difficult for patients to feel comfortable asking for help. This means Pennsylvanians are turning to the web, which provides a safe, private and convenient way to navigate this complex and sometimes isolating process.

Just last year, Google reported 184,000 searches for specific search terms related to Opioid-Use Disorders. However, when broadening it out to other search terms, Google estimates closer to 300,000 opioid treatment-related searches from Pennsylvania residents each year—almost the same number as Pennsylvania residents with opioid-use disorder.

Popular search terms, such as 'methadone clinic,' 'methadone clinic near me,' and 'suboxone doctors near me,' each accounted for nearly 20,000 or more of these searches. Of note, over 70% of these searches were on mobile devices—a platform which is not always accounted for when organizations develop maps of treatment options, long-form content describing treatment options, and other types of content intended to help these PA residents find the help they’re looking for.

How do PA residents search for treatment?

In contrast, on average, Pennsylvania residents made only 17,530 calls to the Get Help Now Hotline between November 2016 and November 2017. Alarmingly, this number has stayed flat over the last five years while drug overdose deaths have increased substantially. Thus, it is clear that Pennsylvanians’ treatment needs are not being met by help hotlines and in-person treatment facilities.

What devices PA residents use to search for OUD treatment

Google Keyword Planner

PA hotline calls dropping as overdoses stay elevated

Overdoses (Source) *Note: Drug categories presented are not mutually exclusive, and deaths may have involved more than one substance - Hotline Calls (Source)

Can Virtual Care Help Close the Treatment Access Gap?

With so many Pennsylvanians seeking help online, Bicycle Health is launching its telehealth digital opioid addiction treatment in Pennsylvania to help bridge the gap between patients in need and available treatment. Bicycle Health is offering Pennsylvanians access to a simple, accessible model for addiction recovery that protects them from stigma, shame, and disadvantage.

With a team of experienced and trained online providers, accessible privately through confidential phone and video calls, Bicycle Health is listening to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians by providing opioid-use disorder treatment that works for them.

Get started with Bicycle Health

No need to go to a doctor’s office or clinic.
Even lab testing can be done from home.
Call (844) 943-2514