PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia office of the Drug Enforcement Administration released its report Thursday, showing 4,642 overdose deaths in Pennsylvania in 2016.
The numbers are staggering, and they once again show that the opioid crisis continues to worsen, affecting thousands of lives across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Further, the DEA found that rural areas of Pennsylvania have now surpassed Philadelphia in the overdose rate.
Gary Tuggle from the DEA said, "In Pennsylvania, 13 people die each day from fatal overdoses."
Nicole Canale of South Philadelphia is living with the painful reality of those devastating numbers. She lost her 28-year-old sister Toni to the opioid epidemic.
She said, "It was terrible, terrible. Every single day she struggled for her life, and every single day she struggled to stay clean. Nobody ever expected that we were going to have to learn to live our lives without her. It's not something we ever want to accept."
57-year-old Linda Gyukity of Drexel Hill is one of the lucky ones.
She started using heroin at age 18. She finally went on a Suboxone detox program, and has been clean now for 16 and a half months.
"I hope to God, and I pray to God, that I never go back because the type of drug addict I am, I'll go back just to die, because I will go where the best drug is," Gyukity said.
And she has advice for anyone even thinking of trying heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances: Don't do it.
"You're gonna die. It's, like, serious stuff now," Gyukity said. Once you get on it, "you're done, you're done," she added.
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