BLOG: Governor Wolf on Fighting Pennsylvania’s Heroin Epidemic (VIDEO)
By: The Office of Governor Tom Wolf
December 23, 2015
In 2014, nearly 2,500 Pennsylvanians died from a drug overdose.
With one in four families in the Commonwealth suffering with the disease of addiction, Governor Wolf has already enacted several initiatives to fight Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic and save lives, in addition to including an additional $9 million in funding in the compromise budget for efforts to combat the Pennsylvania heroin epidemic spread across three agencies.
Since his inauguration, Governor Wolf has worked with his administration to provide real solutions not only to save lives but also to help addicted individuals and their families get the treatment they need to live long, productive lives. Such actions taken by the Wolf Administration include:
- Physician General Rachel Levine signed two standing orders that made naloxone, a medication that safely reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, available initially to all first responders and, later, to all Pennsylvanians. In addition, since police began carrying naloxone late last year, they have reversed more than 550 overdoses across the state.
- A “warm hand-off” process is being developed whereby overdose survivors would be taken directly from the emergency department to a licensed drug treatment provider.
- Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Program focuses on preventing diversion and abuse of prescription drugs by helping communities properly dispose of unused prescriptions. To date, approximately 40,000 pounds of prescription drugs have been taken back and destroyed. There are more than 400 police stations across Pennsylvania where drug take-back boxes are located. (See https://apps.ddap.pa.gov/GetHelpNow/PillDrop.aspx to find a location near you.)
- DOH is leading an effort to build upon the prescribing guidelines already created, including guidelines to address emergency department pain treatment with opioids, opioids in dental practice and opioids to treat chronic non-cancer pain. These guidelines give healthcare providers direction for safe and effective pain relief practices, with greater emphasis on non-opioid therapies and greater caution to prevent addiction and diversion.
- Governor Wolf’s decision to expand Medicaid eligibility in Pennsylvania under the Affordable Care Act has expanded access to drug and alcohol treatment services for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.
- DOH is working to establish Pennsylvania’s prescription drug monitoring program, Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions. The ABC-MAP program will help to ensure prescription drugs are not being overprescribed in an effort to curtail drug addiction and curb the supply of excess drugs that can be used illicitly.
- Working with the Pennsylvania Medical Society, Pennsylvania is developing continuing education programs to help healthcare providers better understand addiction, intervention and treatment.
- DDAP and DOH are working with Pennsylvania’s medical school deans to ensure medical school students are properly trained about responsible pain prescribing and how to identify and help those suffering with addiction.
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