Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Grant Activity: Current Activity Impacting Communities

Behind the Headlines: Pennsylvania's Opioid Crisis Up-Close

A Series of Three Stories

By: Jessica Kourounis

Listen and read the full stories here.

To Be Addicted
With an increasing number of opioid overdoses in Pennsylvania, attention from state and local officials is growing as well as public attention around
the issue. In 2015,there were more than 3,500 drug related overdose deaths in the state, which marked a sharp increase from the previous year. In Philadelphia, 900 people died as a result of overdoses, which is three times the number of homicide victims.
You don’t wake up and say, ‘I want to be a heroin addict.’
Nicole O’Donnell is 37-years old and outgoing. She lives in Delaware County with her fiancé and is a working mother of two.
“I was very lucky. I was blessed. Twelve years of Catholic school. Good student. I had friends. I played sports. My parents are still together. But there was always something missing.”
Morality and  Care

One afternoon, Carol and her friend Barb Burns were doing outreach in Kensington; when they spotted what they thought might be a person on the ground in McPherson Square Park.

Barb rushed out of the car and saw his face was blue. She knew he was overdosing and gave him a shot of the reversal medication Narcan; then she began mouth-to-mouth. Carol performed CPR. Barb gave him another dose; this time a nasal spray version.

A Mother's Love
While the opioid crisis escalates, families are struggling to cope.
As a mother, Carol Rostucher has dealt with a lot. She survived cancer while raising two boys on her own, but she says her oldest son’s heroin addiction was the scariest thing that’s ever happened in her life.
“Your first instinct is I can fix this. I should be able to fix this. I’m his mother. I can do this because a mother’s love trumps everything. But guess what? You can’t. That disease is so strong, it takes mothers from their children.”