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

08/17/2022

Philadelphia, PA - Today, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jen Smith joined the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) Commissioner Dr. Jill Bowen, elected officials, substance use disorder treatment providers and prevention specialists, health care providers, and other stakeholders for a roundtable discussion on efforts to manage the addiction crisis in Philadelphia.

“The addiction crisis continues to have a devasting impact on the city of Philadelphia, particularly in the last few years in terms of overdose deaths,” said Secretary Smith. “Coming to the epicenter of overdose deaths in Pennsylvania is critically important and presents an opportunity to hear directly from folks in Philadelphia regarding what successes and challenges they’re currently experiencing and how our multiple levels of government moving forward can collectively address substance use trends, disparities, and our management of the addiction crisis.”

According to the Department of Health, preliminary data reports 5,326 lives were lost to an overdose in Pennsylvania in 2021, with 1,274 reported deaths in Philadelphia.

This roundtable concludes 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. DDAP has held 13 listening sessions with several counties throughout Pennsylvania.

DBHIDS is Philadelphia’s single county authority (SCA) of drug and alcohol services throughout the county. The mission of the department’s addiction services is to provide services and supports that are individualized, built with and around each person and family, including level of care assessment, medically managed inpatient detoxification, residential and non-residential treatment, case management, and youth services.

"DBHIDS is dedicated to addressing trauma, achieving equity, and engaging community every day as we work with our city and community partners to address the substance use crisis in the Philadelphia region," Commissioner Bowen said. "Close coordination with DDAP, as well as our network of public and private partners, is the cornerstone to making progress toward our mission of educating, strengthening, and serving individuals and communities so that all Philadelphians can thrive."

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,
  • 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.

DDAP is the state’s leader of the Interagency Substance Use Response Team, a tool for collaboration across state government to combat the disease of addiction by focusing on the increase in polysubstance use, stimulant use, and additional SUDs emerging in Pennsylvania. The overarching goals of the response team align with DDAP’s existing strategic plan goals of reducing stigma, intensifying primary prevention, strengthening the drug and alcohol treatment system, and empowering sustained recovery.

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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