In York, Secretary Dallas Touts Strides Made in 2016-17 Budget to Combat Opioid Epidemic

August 15, 2016

Harrisburg, PA –Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas toured Pennsylvania Counseling Services, a Center of Excellence in York, to discuss the significant strides made in the 2016-17 budget to combat the opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic in Pennsylvania. The Wolf Administration successfully secured the necessary funding for DHS to open 20 Centers of Excellence (COEs) statewide by October 1, 2016.
“Since opioids are so powerful, those who try to recover need different types of help in order to beat the disease. In fact, this approach has gained huge momentum as the most modern and successful way to support recovery, especially from opioids,” said Secretary Dallas. “The intense cravings, detoxification, and withdrawal symptoms involved in quitting make addiction difficult to overcome. As our Centers of Excellence strategy involve both behavioral therapy and FDA approved medication that individuals take to help curb cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms, it can improve the odds of recovery. While the budget allows us to expand treatment for individuals suffering from addiction, we can and should do more to address this matter that is plaguing all of our communities.”

“Pennsylvania Counseling Services applied to become a Center of Excellence because we have witnessed the opioid epidemic ravage our clients, families and communities and we felt compelled to do more to prevent these senseless losses,” said Trish Young, Vice President of Outpatient Services and Clinical Psychologist at Pennsylvania Counseling Services. “Serving individuals of all ages, we believe it is imperative to identify and address the variety of complex issues that our clients grapple with on a daily basis such as trauma, relationship and family discord, mental health and addiction issues, education and employment challenges, and physical health problems. We see the futility of attempting to isolate and treat just one aspect of their struggle or to provide services that are disconnected and disjointed. Becoming a Center of Excellence will allow us to extend our reach out into the community and to be a wraparound service that assists in the coordination of care while also providing ongoing support and education to individuals, their families, and the community.”

The current path of treatment for people who have opioid-related substance use disorders can be confusing and difficult to navigate. The links between behavioral health treatment and physical health treatment are often broken or not made at all. This means people may drop out of treatment after they receive care for their physical symptoms, bypassing critical components of care such as behavioral therapies and connection to community supports that can lead to meaningful recovery from substance use disorder.

The Centers of Excellence are a central, efficient hub around which treatment revolves. These centers will have navigators to assist people with opioid-related substance use disorders though the medical system, and ensure they receive behavioral and physical health care, as well as any evidence-based medication-assisted treatment needed.

The use of medication (like buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone), coupled with wrap-around supportive services, can prevent people from relapsing and improve their chances for recovery, ultimately driving the aforementioned statistics in the opposite direction.
The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs will license the COEs as drug and alcohol providers that provide one of the three FDA-approved medications.

DHS is currently working with its actuaries to determine whether additional COEs can be funded by analyzing the impact they will have on the physical and behavioral health Medicaid managed care rates.

For more information about the Centers of Excellence, visit

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