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Shapiro Administration Continues Statewide Stakeholder Engagement Tour in Lehigh County, Highlights Local Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Supports

‘Phase 2’ builds on actions the Shapiro Administration implemented following the first phase of the tour, including methods to improve community and treatment provider engagement as well as access to – and delivery of – SUD services.

04/25/2024

Allentown, PA - Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Dr. Latika Davis-Jones continued Phase 2 of the agency’s statewide stakeholder engagement tour this week in Lehigh County to hear top issues and concerns surrounding the opioid and overdose crises, while highlighting local substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and recovery facilities.

“The Shapiro Administration is prioritizing a multi-pronged approach to addressing the overdose and opioid public health crises,” said Secretary Davis-Jones. “Our stops in Lehigh County are a snapshot look into how our partners at the county level are addressing the needs of local residents and how we, the state, can complement their efforts moving forward.”

As part of this April 24 stop, Secretary Davis-Jones took part in a recovery-centered yoga session at Change on Hamilton, a recovery center offering a safe environment that fosters inclusive and respectful support to individuals seeking assistance in all stages of recovery. Change on Hamilton also provides referrals to treatment and other community-based support services. Secretary Davis-Jones also visited DDAP-licensed SUD treatment facility Treatment Trends, Inc., where she toured the SUD outpatient unit which utilizes a multidisciplinary approach in level of care assessments and treatment for men, women, and adolescents.

Secretary Davis-Jones was joined by Lehigh County Drug & Alcohol Services, SUD treatment providers, recovery organizations, and other stakeholders for a roundtable discussion on efforts to manage the overdose crisis in Lehigh County.

The county’s drug and alcohol office is the Single County Authority (SCA) for drug and alcohol services in Lehigh County, serving as the coordinating agency for publicly supported drug and alcohol programming countywide.

“There have been longstanding gaps in our recovery systems that far too many fall through. We’ve been inspired at the way our providers and DDAP have collaborated with Lehigh County SCA on creative solutions that bring novel treatment and wraparound support to recovering people,” said Joe Martellucci, Lehigh County Drug & Alcohol Services Administrator. “Together we’re turning the tide in the opioid epidemic.”

DDAP recently awarded nearly $1.5 million to organizations serving Lehigh County that will help to:

· establish or expand SUD services, community outreach and education to underrepresented communities struggling with the opioid overdose crisis; and

· establish a regional recovery hub to enhance resources for individuals in recovery and promote recovery within Lehigh County and the surrounding region.

Building on ‘Phase 1’

Phase 2 of DDAP’s engagement tour will center on gaining stakeholder insight to assist the agency’s work on regulatory reform and build on the feedback received and solutions instituted as a result of Phase 1.

The Phase 1 findings were derived as a direct result of the feedback received during roundtable discussions held in 2023. Throughout Phase 1, DDAP visited 10 Pennsylvania counties including Allegheny, Erie, Centre and Philadelphia, met with more than 220 stakeholders during the roundtables, and visited nearly 20 different service providers including inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities, DDAP-licensed recovery houses, and wellness centers.

Below are DDAP’s action items that don’t require regulatory action and further align with the agency’s RISE goals of Reducing stigma, Intensifying primary prevention services, Strengthening treatment systems, and Empowering sustained recovery:

· DDAP is offering more than $22 million in SUD student loan repayment grants to assist practitioners within the SUD treatment, prevention, case management and recovery support services workforce;

· DDAP surveyed the SUD workforce to gather additional knowledge of pain points related to DDAP’s regulations. DDAP will use the information from over 300 survey responses, coupled with data gathered during Phase 1, to conduct time-limited and topic-specific work groups to help inform the agency’s future regulatory reform decisions and ensure stakeholder input throughout the process;

· DDAP is providing clarification to the SUD workforce regarding alignment with American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) criteria, which is a comprehensive set of standards and decision rules determining the appropriate level of care and developing treatment plans, through technical assistance webinars and additional educational opportunities; and

· DDAP-established regional recovery hubs will provide additional trainings to equity coalitions, including diversity, equity and inclusion training.

‘Boots-on-the-Ground’ Input

Stakeholders include individuals in recovery and those with lived experience, service providers, active service recipients, community leaders, schools, corrections units, and more. The tour will seek to reach communities and voices less frequently heard.

DDAP is prioritizing gaining stakeholder insight to assist the agency with its regulatory reform initiative. Specifically, the agency’s objectives for the regulatory reform initiative include:

· organizing regulations in a way that makes sense for providers, people using services, and family members reading them;

· updating terminology to use current and consistent terms using plain language while avoiding stigmatizing language; and

· ensuring regulations are specifically focused and designed to promote client safety, quality care, and positive outcomes and elevate the service user’s experience.

Throughout the remainder of the tour, DDAP will also be seeking input on SUD issues related to: ​

· data requirements and modernization needs​

· health equity work and advancement​

· treatment slot management ​

· improving departmental communications.

Future tour stops will include Blair County, Westmoreland County, and several others.

Learn more about the Shapiro Administration’s efforts in combating the overdose crisis at pa.gov/opioids.

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

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