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In Bethlehem, Governor Wolf Hosts Roundtable to Discuss State Efforts to Battle Opioid Epidemic

January 11, 2017

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf visited New Directions Treatment Services in Bethlehem. At New Directions, which has been selected as a center of excellence, Governor Wolf hosted a roundtable to discuss his administration’s efforts to battle the opioid epidemic and how the state can continue this fight. The 2016-2017 budget included $20.4 million for Centers of Excellence which serve as central, efficient hubs around which treatment revolves. These centers will have navigators to assist people with opioid-related substance use disorders through the medical system, and ensure they receive behavioral and physical health care, as well as any evidence-based medication-assisted treatment needed.

“Ensuring that Pennsylvanians have access to the mental health and substance use care that they need is a priority for my administration. Every day, we lose ten Pennsylvanians to the disease of opioid addiction and 3,500 Pennsylvanians lost their lives in 2015 alone,” said Governor Wolf. “As we all know, the opioid epidemic does not discriminate – it affects Pennsylvanians from all walks of life. While we have achieved much, we can and should do more to address this matter that is plaguing all of our communities.”

“I was very pleased to welcome Governor Wolf to our clinic today,” said Mairead Desmond,  ‎Executive Director at New Directions Treatment Services. “The Governor’s commitment to helping people in the Commonwealth, as evidenced by his much needed expansion of Medicaid, is appreciated by the people we serve in our programs.   Without that expansion, many of them would have been unable to get the care they need.

“At the AATOD conference late last year, Chuck Rosenberg of the DEA, in speaking about Medication Assisted Treatment for OUD, said that we cannot ‘enforce or prosecute’ our way out of the opioid epidemic that is having devastating consequences in our country.  Mr. Rosenberg said that the way to address this crisis is through demand reduction and demand reduction can be achieved by making treatment available to everyone who needs it.    Governor Wolf has been helping to make that happen in Pennsylvania.

“I want to thank the Governor for his efforts to combat this crisis, especially his promotion of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).  MAT is a treatment modality that is often misunderstood despite the fact that it has 40 years of demonstrated efficacy in treating and thereby preventing overdose deaths for people affected by Opiate Use Disorders.”

In late September, Governor Wolf addressed a joint session of the General Assembly to outline a set of shared, specific legislative goals that would help tackle the opioid and heroin crisis. Together with Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate, Governor Wolf made a commitment to prioritize helping the victims of substance use disorder and the communities that have been devastated by this terrible disease.

During the fall session, we made real progress in helping the victims of substance use disorder and the communities that have been devastated by this terrible disease. The governor and legislators made significant achievements toward fighting this epidemic by passing five major bills that will strengthen the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, restrict the number of pills that can be prescribed to minors or in emergency rooms, establish education curriculum on safe prescribing, and create more locations for the drop-off of drugs among other important initiatives.

If you or someone you know is suffering from substance use disorder, help is available. Please visit pa.gov/opioids or call 1-800-662-HELP.


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