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November 30, 2017

Initiative aims to fight stigma of opioid addiction with stories of recovery

Penn State, Independence Blue Cross will collaborate on campaign

Addiction Campaigns
IBC Foundation opioid crisis event Contributed photo/Independence Blue Cross Foundation

From left to right: Independence president and CEO Dan Hilferty, Gov. Tom Wolf, Caron Treatment Center president and CEO Doug Tieman, and IBC Foundation president Lorina Marshall-Blake. Wolf and Hilferty announced a new campaign to share stories of addiction and recovery in an effort to reduce the stigma often associated with opioid abuse.

Independence Blue Cross is set to pair up with Penn State University in an effort to combat the stigma of drug addiction.

Penn State's Justice Center for Research, in partnership with the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, will launch a multimedia public awareness campaign to share stories of addiction and recovery in an effort to reduce the shame often associated with opioid abuse, IBC said in a release.

Glenn Sterner, a post-doctoral scholar at the research center, will head a team of university researchers and IBC Foundation professionals to collect and share stories from those impacted by the opioid epidemic.

The stories will later be shared at community gatherings, which will also include an in-depth discussion on the stigma associated with drug addiction, according to the release. Local resources will also be on hand for those seeking treatment.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and IBC President and CEO Daniel J. Hilferty announced the campaign earlier this week.

“The story of the opiate crisis in the Philadelphia region, much like the rest of the country, continues to be told through staggering statistics like these," Hilferty said in the statement. “However, these numbers fail to capture the devastating effect of opiate addiction on individuals, family members, employers, and communities. Through this project, we hope those suffering from addiction will feel more empowered to ask for help.”

Overdose deaths across the state in 2016 rose 37 percent from the year before, and overdoses claimed nearly 1,700 lives in southeastern Pennsylvania alone. 

Philadelphia is on course for 1,200 overdose deaths this year, up 300 from last year, IBC said.

Last year, the health insurance provider launched the Supporting Treatment and Overdose Prevention initiative, which aims to increase awareness and access to community-based opioid treatment and prevention.

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