A recent press conference with Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Mental Health and Substance Abuse services was held revealing the state’s continued and expanded efforts in hopes of handling its own responsibility in the opioid crisis. The Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine made a strong statement about the situation.
“The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis, and the ability to declare a public health emergency ensures that we can mobilize our public health resources for this crisis, and for future crises.”
Up until now, the situation was categorized as a “disaster emergency” which put certain kinds of restrictions on organizations and funding to handle related issues to addiction treatment and overdose prevention. It also allowed money intended to be used to help alleviate the problems caused by and associated with it to be rescheduled into unrelated programs, leaving organizations which could benefit from funding, more or less, hang out to dry. The new declaration of “public health emergency” would encourage, allow and require more narrow focus to problems related specifically to public health and opioid addiction. According to State Senator Jay Costa, the designation would allow the Department of Health to wave regulations and create new, temporary ones in the event of an emergency. Declaring the opioid crisis an emergency opens up the ability for new funding and programs.
The actual designation itself was born out of the lack of effectiveness to handle the opioid crisis, but has a much broader reach, according to the engineers and sponsors of the legislation. The effective range of events it can be used for range from biological attacks to disease outbreak, according to the bill’s memo. The bill has been around since late 2016 and has failed to pass multiple times, the latest downvote being late 2017. The opioid crisis’ stubborn trend might have finally given the state a higher level of direct action to help addicts receive treatment and reduce overall overdose deaths related to it and other drugs and convinced legislators to pass the bill.
Among programs that could receive a boost of financial and personnel support are those like DART, a drug and alcohol addiction referral tool. Deputy secretary Lynn Kovich cited DART as just one of many points of operation that can lead to positive change in the landscape of substance use disorder.
“It can be very daunting for a family to find treatment, so the DART is a centralized way to help people access treatment,” Kovich said.
Other areas where the state hopes to curb overdoses is within state prisons themselves. Drug use in prison claims a noticeable chunk of overdose deaths for the state. The Bureau of Community Corrections director Danny McIntyre cited plans to increase body scanners that search for contraband to more facilities after analysis showed a correlation of lower overdose deaths in prisons with the scanners.
Other parts of the plan, if the bill is passed, would allow state sponsorship of treatment programs, job placement assistance for those recovering or re-entering the population from prison and other similar measures.
Pennsylvania drug rehab can help you or someone you know to overcome their illness of addiction. Addiction treatment in Pennsylvania such as the Philly Counselling Center (610-298-1999) offer a variety of programs including intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) in Philly.