OFFICE OF COMMUNITY HEALTH AND SAFETY

Public Services Announcements & Press Releases

Public Services Announcements

The Office of Community Health and Safety have issued a public service announcement urging City of Pittsburgh residents to use caution and employ safe practices if using drugs due to ongoing overdose risk associated with fentanyl. Fentanyl is an extremely potent opioid that can quickly stop your breathing and cause an opioid overdose, which can lead to death.

Any substance not obtained directly from a pharmacy or other licensed medical professional has the potential to contain fentanyl. This includes, but is not limited to heroin, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines, ecstasy, and counterfeit pills such as Percocet and Xanax. While fentanyl has been present in the heroin supply for several years in this region, there are increasing reports of other, non-opioid drugs that have been cut with or contaminated by fentanyl. 

There are several strategies that can be used to increase safety when using drugs:  

Call 9-1-1 

  • Overdoses can be fatal within a very brief period of time. 
  • 9-1-1 dispatchers will quickly send first responders to help and can provide guidance on how to respond to a suspected overdose. 
  • Pennsylvania Act 139 provides certain legal protection for the person experiencing the overdose as well as the caller, provided they stay with the victim. This protection is for a drug overdose only. Read more about Act 139 here.  

Have Narcan Immediately On Hand (enough for each person who is using) 

  • Narcan (naloxone) is a safe and legal medication that can reverse an opioid overdose and enable breathing.  
  • Narcan is not harmful to a person who is not experiencing an overdose, so there is no risk in administering it.
  • Narcan can be purchased at any pharmacy and is covered by most insurance plans. For a list of pharmacies that will sell you Narcan without a prescription, click here. Narcan can also be obtained (free of charge) from Prevention Point Pittsburgh.
  • Learn how to use Narcan here

Use Fentanyl Test Strips to Test Substances 

  • Fentanyl test strips are able to detect the presence of fentanyl which can quickly stop breathing and cause an opioid overdose, which can lead to death. The street drug supply is unpredictable and fentanyl test strips can tell you whether a drug has fentanyl in it.  
  • Fentanyl test are provided by Prevention Point Pittsburgh at no cost. Find the closest Prevention Point Pittsburgh site here
  • Learn how to use fentanyl test strips here

Never Use Drugs Alone 

  • Using drugs alone is dangerous because there is no one around to help you in case of an overdose. Using drugs with another person present is safer because they can give you Narcan and/or call an ambulance if you need help. 
  • If you are using drugs alone, call the Never Use Alone hotline at (800) 484-3731. An operator will stay on the line with you while you use. You will be asked for your first name, location, and the number you are calling from. If you stop responding after using, the operator will notify emergency services of an “unresponsive person” at your location. Learn more here

Take Turns/Stagger Use 

  • Taking turns using ensures that everyone does not overdose at the same time and someone is always available to help. 

Start Slow  

  • When using drugs, start slow and begin by using a very small amount. The drug supply is very unpredictable and drugs can vary greatly in strength.  
  • You are at higher risk of overdose if you are using drugs for the first time, have not used for a period of time, or are mixing different types of drugs and/or alcohol.  

Access Treatment 

Access Sterile Syringes  

  • If you inject drugs, using sterile syringes can decrease your risk of infection and decrease your risk of contracting conditions such as HIV and Hepatitis C.   
  • Sterile syringes and other safe drug use supplies are provided by Prevention Point Pittsburgh at no cost. Find the closest Prevention Point Pittsburgh site here

While the increased presence of fentanyl in the drug supply has heightened overdose risk, this only applies to individuals who are actively engaging in drug use. Nearly all forms of fentanyl do not absorb through the skin and cannot cause an overdose through direct skin contact. Similarly, those in the vicinity of powdered fentanyl in the air will not experience an overdose.

The safety of City of Pittsburgh residents is our highest priority and we encourage you to follow the advice and use the resources listed in this announcement. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to the Office of Community Health and Safety at ochspgh@pittsburghpa.gov.  

 

Press Releases

Office of Community Health and Safety Expands Team to Enhance Efforts on Social Work, Community Engagement and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion
Posted: 10.07.2021

Mayor Peduto Signs Executive Order Related to Fentanyl Test Strips for Overdose Prevention on Overdose Awareness Day
Posted: 08.31.2021

Pittsburgh Police and Office of Community Health and Safety Selected to Develop Crisis Response and Intervention Team Co-Response Model
Posted: 07.12.2021

Office of Community Health and Safety Receives Grant for Neighborhood Health and Safety Academy Pilot
Posted: 07.06.2021

Dr. Sheila Roth Joins City of Pittsburgh Office of Community Health and Safety as Continuum of Support Program Manager
Posted: 05.17.2021

City of Pittsburgh Offering Free Pediatric First Aid, CPR and Fire Safety Certifications for Childcare Providers
Posted: 04.06.2021

Office of Community Health and Safety Selected for National League​ Of Cities Community Health Cohort
Posted 02.05.2021​

Pittsburgh Police Giving Recruits Cutting-Edge New Training on Homelessness ​
Posted 01.27.2021​

City to Implement Pre-Arrest Diversion Program for Low-Level Crimes​
Posted 07.20.2020​

​City and AHN to Partner on Support for Those Experiencing Homelessness​
Posted 07.13.2020​

​City Announces Plans for an Office of Community Health and Safety​
Posted 06.12.2020​

 

Contacts

Laura Drogowski
Director, Office of Community Health and Safety​
ochspgh@pittsburghpa.gov