TAMAQUA, Pa., April 12, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine today participated in a town hall meeting at Tamaqua Area Middle School in Schuylkill County and highlighted the steps the Wolf Administration is taking to curb opioid addiction rates in Pennsylvania. The town hall focused on the heroin public health crisis and lessons learned.
"This past year has taught us how to more effectively fight the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania and save lives," Dr. Levine said. "We must remember that addiction is a disease and recovery is possible. With the support of our community partners, we can help people get their lives and their loved ones back from the grip of substance use disorder."
The Wolf Administration holds the fight against heroin and prescription opioids as a top priority. In order to continue the battle against the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf included the following proposals in his 2017-18 budget:
- Expanding access to life-saving naloxone by providing $10 million through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to first responders and law enforcement, and other public entities across the commonwealth;
- Maximizing federal Cures Act funding, which includes $26.2 million in each of the next two years for Pennsylvania, to expand access to treatment services, particularly for individuals who are uninsured or underinsured; and
- Providing $3.4 million to expand evidence-based specialty drug courts to expand treatment strategies that divert offenders into more meaningful treatment and recovery.
Some of the administration's other initiatives to fight the opioid epidemic include:
- Establishing a new law limiting the amount of opioids that can be prescribed to a minor and to individuals discharged from emergency rooms to seven days;
- Strengthening the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) so that doctors are required and able to check the system each time they prescribe opioids and benzodiazepines;
- Forming new prescribing guidelines to help doctors, including geriatricians, who provide opioid prescriptions to their patients;
- Creating the warm handoff guideline to facilitate referrals from the emergency department to substance abuse treatment;
- Educating and encouraging seniors to properly use, store and dispose of unused prescription medications through Drug Take-Back initiatives;
- Increasing the availability of naloxone; and
- Designating Centers of Excellence, central hubs that provide navigators to assist those with opioid use disorders with behavioral and physical health care, along with medication-assisted treatment, as needed.
The town hall event was sponsored by STEP Up Tamaqua, which is a volunteer effort to address substance abuse disorder in the Tamaqua community.
If you or someone you know is suffering from the disease of addiction, call 1-800-662-HELP or visit www.pa.gov/opioids for treatment options. For more information on the fight against opioid abuse in Pennsylvania, visit the Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health