Wolf Administration Highlights Importance of Community Supports for Individuals in Recovery

Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jen SmithCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

YORK, PA — Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jen Smith was recetly joined by individuals in recovery, the York/Adams Drug and Alcohol Commission, and State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans to visit The Recovery Advocacy Service Empowerment (RASE) Project of York’s new recovery center and highlight the importance of local community supports for individuals in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD).

“For the drug and alcohol community, September is a time of celebration by showing that with the right resources and support services, recovery is not only possible, it is probable,” said DDAP Secretary Jen Smith. “Today’s event, highlighting The RASE Project’s new recovery center and the critical services they provide to the recovery community, is a symbol of hope for all individuals battling addiction and their loved ones.”

The RASE Project is a Recovery Community Organization, meaning the organization is comprised entirely of staff and volunteers from the recovery community with the goal of serving the recovery community. The RASE Project provides advocacy services for individuals in or seeking recovery from SUD; recovery housing for men and women in early recovery; peer-to-peer recovery services such as medication-assisted treatment, recovery specialist services, and recovery groups; positive substance-free social events, and more.

National Recovery Month is observed throughout the month of September to recognize the gains made in the lives of individuals living in recovery from SUD and show that every day, people can and do recover. The 2021 National Recovery Month theme, “Recovery is For Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community,” reminds people in recovery and those who support them that no one is alone in the journey through recovery. Everyone’s journey is different, but we are all in this together.

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“This year’s recognition of National Recovery Month comes at a time when we are at an inflection point between grief and hope, as we saw a significant increase in overdose deaths in 2020 compared to other recent years,” said Smith. “We all must recommit to addressing the addiction crisis.”

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), preliminary numbers show there have been 5,067 drug overdose deaths reported for 2020 through August 2021 in Pennsylvania, marking a substantial increase from recent years. It is an increase of more than 600 drug overdose deaths reported in 2019 and ranks second only to 2017, in which there were almost 5,400 overdose deaths.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the challenges for people with the disease of addiction and the number of fatal overdoses in 2020. The DOH Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, housed within the Office of Drug Surveillance and Misuse Prevention (ODSMP) has been working since 2016 to explore efforts to reduce the number of overdoses and continue helping those struggling with substance use.

“For individuals living in recovery from substance use disorder, we understand that it is a lifetime journey, and we are incredibly proud of you,” DOH Deputy Secretary Ray Barishansky said. “You show that treatment works and recovery is possible and you provide hope to others. The Wolf Administration remains committed to providing a pathway for Pennsylvanians struggling with substance use disorder by ensuring everyone that needs access to treatment has it and undergoes the recovery process. This month, we encourage you to take advantage of the different National Recovery Month events taking place across Pennsylvania.”

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The Wolf Administration, including DDAP, DOH and many other state agencies, has taken significant action over the past several years to address the opioid crisis. Those initiatives and programs include:

  • Calling on all Pennsylvanians to carry naloxone.
  • EMS administering more than 51,760 doses of naloxone between January 2018 to present.
  • Making more than 880 drug take-back boxes available to help Pennsylvanians properly dispose of unwanted drugs.
  • Launching the anti-stigma campaign, Life Unites Us, to use social media platforms to spread real-life stories of individuals and their family members battling substance use disorder, live and recorded webinars detailing tools and information necessary to effectively reduce stigma to more than 350 community-based organizations focused on substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery throughout Pennsylvania.
  • The DOH Office of Drug Surveillance and Misuse Prevention reducing opioid prescriptions by 40 percent and virtually eliminating doctor shopping.
  • Pennsylvania Coordinated Medication-Assisted Treatment (PacMAT) programs are serving as part of a hub-and-spoke model to provide evidence-based treatment to people where they live. Eight PacMAT programs currently serve patients through this initiative, and over 8,000 patients have been served through this initiative.
  • Since 2016, more than 76,000 Pennsylvanians have used Pennsylvania’s Get Help Now hotline to find and/or access substance use treatment in their area.

Individuals looking for substance use disorder treatment options or resources for themselves can call DDAP’s Get Help Now Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). This helpline is free and confidential and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. A live chat option is also available online as well as a texting option at 717-216-0905 to be connected directly to local treatment options and resources.

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View a full calendar of National Recovery Month events at ddap.pa.gov.

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