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Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Discusses Efforts to Decrease Overdose Deaths in Lackawanna County

04/29/2022

Lackawanna, PA - Today, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jen Smith joined the Lackawanna/Susquehanna County Office of Drug and Alcohol Programs, local elected officials, substance use disorder treatment providers and prevention specialists, health care providers, and other stakeholders for a roundtable discussion on local efforts to manage the addiction crisis.

“Local communities are the first line of defense when it comes to managing the responses to the addiction crisis and it is crucial to hear directly from communities in various regions of the state,” said Secretary Smith. “This is an opportunity to learn about what successes and challenges folks in the northeast region of Pennsylvania are currently experiencing and to take a close look at the impacts of the adjustments they’ve made since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of this information will help to shape our long-term plan in how we can better the lives of those struggling with substance use disorder.”

This roundtable is part of DDAP’s Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Listening Tour designed to meet with local leaders, SUD treatment providers, members of the recovery community, and other stakeholders to discuss SUD trends at the local level. This tour is in response to the increase in overdose deaths and polysubstance use throughout the commonwealth.

The Lackawanna/Susquehanna County Office of Drug and Alcohol Programs is the single county authority (SCA) and administrator of drug and alcohol services in Lackawanna and Susquehanna counties. The SCA has management and direct service responsibilities in the areas of programmatic and financial oversight of the counties’ drug and alcohol systems, school and community-based prevention programming and case management.

“We are extremely grateful for Sec. Smith’s visit today to hear about our successes and challenges in northeast Pennsylvania,” said Lackawanna/Susquehanna County Office of Drug and Alcohol Programs Director Barbara Durkin. “My office, in conjunction with the Lackawanna Recovery Coalition and Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office, has mailed out more than one thousand free doses of naloxone since the start of the pandemic, and we are working diligently every day to distribute more of this life-saving drug, connect people to treatment, reduce harm through drug take-back programs, educate the public and reduce the stigma surrounding substance use disorder. With the with the help of our partners in state government, we hope to be able to expand our programs and save more lives.”

Since Governor Tom Wolf took office, DDAP has placed a heavy focus on reducing stigma, intensifying primary prevention efforts, strengthening Pennsylvania’s drug and alcohol treatment system, and empowering sustained recovery by:

  • Implementing Life Unites Us, the first-of-its-kind, evidence-based stigma reduction campaign which reached nearly four million Pennsylvanians in year one,
  • Collecting more than 1 million pounds of prescription medication across more than 889 take-back boxes in all 67 Pennsylvania counties,
  • Launching Pennsylvania’s Get Help Now Hotline, which has connected an average of 21 Pennsylvanians per day directly to substance use disorder treatment,
  • Expanding access to naloxone in communities through Pennsylvania’s standing order, free distribution days, and mail-order naloxone program,
  • Implementing Warm Handoff Programs in 95 percent of Pennsylvania’s hospitals and referring more than 27,000 individuals to SUD treatment through those programs,
  • Increasing access to medication-assisted treatment and treatment for uninsured and underinsured individuals with SUD, and
  • Awarding over $14 million in federal funding to recovery community organizations.

DDAP announced its continued efforts to combat SUD and overdose deaths, including the rise in stimulant and polysubstance use. By establishing the Interagency Substance Use Response Team, the Wolf Administration is restructuring efforts to address all substance use disorders, by bringing together key players to resolve policy, procedural, and funding matters in relation to the addiction crisis across the commonwealth.

To learn more about DDAP’s efforts in combating the addiction crisis, visit ddap.pa.gov.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephany Dugan - ra-dapressoffice@pa.gov

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