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

Pittsburgh, PA – Today, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jen Smith joined the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) Office of Behavioral Health’s Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services, 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.

“This a comprehensive way to learn about local efforts to manage the addiction crisis in Allegheny County, which has lost a devastating number of individuals to an overdose in the last few years alone,” said Secretary Smith. “It’s also an opportunity to hear directly from folks in this region of the state regarding what successes and challenges they’re currently experiencing and how our multiple levels of government moving forward can collectively address substance use trends, while more broadly tackling the behavioral health crisis we are experiencing.”

to the Department of Health, according to preliminary data reports 5,319 lives were lost to an overdose in Pennsylvania in 2021, with 716 reported deaths in Allegheny County.

This roundtable is part of DDAP’s Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Listening Tour and is 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. To date, DDAP has held 10 listening sessions with several counties throughout Pennsylvania.

The county’s Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services is the single county authority (SCA) of drug and alcohol services in Allegheny County. The Allegheny County DHS provides and administers publicly funded human services to county residents. Specific drug and alcohol services include case coordination, detoxification and methadone maintenance, out-patient treatment, partial hospitalization, programs, short- and long-term in-patient residential treatment, and student assistance programs.

“The pandemic has been especially hard on those with a substance use disorder. In Allegheny County we have been fortunate in that we’ve had the ability to adapt and meet new and changing service needs. We are grateful to DDAP for supporting our efforts and for meeting with our network of providers. We are excited to hear from our providers about some new and innovative services like the Pathway to Care and Recovery, additional youth services such as case management and diversion and expanded youth recovery housing,” said Maisha Howze, Assistant Deputy Director for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health.

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 Usthe 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 alignment 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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