Harrisburg, PA - Today, the departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Health (DOH) and Congresswoman Madeleine Dean joined individuals in recovery, advocacy organizations, and others to highlight the importance of accessible supports for individuals in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) and to kick off National Recovery Month across Pennsylvania.
National Recovery Month is observed throughout the month of September to recognize the gains made in the lives of individuals living in recovery from SUD and show that every day, people can and do recover. The 2022 National Recovery Month theme is “Recovery is For Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.”
“People can and do recover from the disease of addiction. September is a time to celebrate the gift of recovery and to remind people in recovery, and those who support them, that no one is alone in their journey,” said DDAP Secretary Jen Smith. “The Wolf Administration’s efforts go far beyond this month, as we work each and every day to promote recovery and to help all Pennsylvanians live happy, healthy lives. At the crux of our efforts is eliminating stigma and clearing a path for someone to take that first step on their road to recovery.”
Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, U.S. representative for Pennsylvania's 4th Congressional District, and her son Harry Cunnane, who is celebrating his ninth year in recovery, spoke candidly about their family’s experience with addiction to break the stigma surrounding the disease and spread awareness that recovery is possible with the right treatment and support.
“National Recovery Month is a time to bring hope to people in recovery and their families. I was grateful to be with my son, Harry, as well as Secretary Jen Smith and other advocates to discuss how we can make recovery more accessible and possible for everyone in Pennsylvania,” Rep. Dean said. “Government has a role to play to spread awareness, break the stigma, and help save lives.”
Since taking office, Dean has introduced and sponsored legislation to reduce the many challenges faced by people suffering from SUD. She sponsored the Improving Access to Care and Treatment (IMPACT) Act to increase the amount of time health care providers are allowed to hold long-acting injectable buprenorphine — thereby facilitating patient access to this important treatment option. Dean also introduced the Coordinating Substance Use and Homelessness Act to help agencies better coordinate health and homeless services and the Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act to close a loophole that blocks pharmaceutical competition — preventing innovative treatments for opioid use disorder.
Prior to the press conference, Smith, Dean, and others met with stakeholders from the recovery field, including The RASE Project, a Recovery Community Organization, which provides advocacy services for individuals in or seeking recovery from SUD; and R3 House, which operates four DDAP-licensed recovery houses serving over 50 male and female individuals in recovery in Lancaster County.
“People in recovery are incredibly strong and resilient. They are to be commended for the work they do every day to not only recover themselves, but also to support others on a similar journey,” said Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson. “The Wolf Administration understands that recovery from substance use disorder is possible and we are committed to helping individuals get the help and resources they need to thrive.”
Since Governor Tom Wolf took office, his administration 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,
- Awarding over $14 million in federal funding to recovery community organizations, and
- Expanding a new, free, and confidential SUD treatment locator resource, Addiction Treatment Locator, Assessment, and Standards Platform (ATLAS) to Pennsylvania.
Individuals looking for substance use disorder treatment options or resources for themselves, or a loved one can call DDAP’s Get Help Now Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). This helpline is free and confidential and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
View a full calendar of National Recovery Month events at ddap.pa.gov.
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