Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jen Smith joined Sen. Judy Schwank and local substance use disorder treatment providers on Friday for a roundtable discussion on the current landscape of the addiction crisis in Berks County and to highlight the resources available through local SUD treatment facilities.
The event was held at Easy Does It, Inc., which provides supportive housing and recovery support services at its 50-resident facility in Berks County.
“We must have continued urgency to address this crisis at the community level, as that is where change begins, and we must do all that we can to support SUD treatment providers because treatment is such a crucial step on the road to recovery,” said Secretary Smith.
“The addiction crisis looks different in different parts of the state. Today provided an opportunity to hear directly from treatment providers in Berks County as to what successes and challenges they are currently experiencing within this area.”
According to the Department of Health, 128 of the 5,162 fatal overdoses in Pennsylvania in 2020 were in Berks County. Preliminary data reports 5,224 lives were lost to an overdose in Pennsylvania in 2021.
“The opioid crisis has hit Pennsylvania particularly hard, and while it’s important to keep the focus on an issue that impacts so many people throughout the commonwealth, I think it’s equally important that we shine a lot on the recovery communities that are giving people in Berks County hope,” said Sen. Schwank.
“Berks County wants to be an example for others to follow in terms of addressing the opioid crisis. I look forward to continuing to work with Sec. Smith and the team at DDAP to make sure our recovery community has everything they need to be successful and help as many people as they can.”
DDAP is the state’s leader of the Interagency Substance Use Response Team, a tool for collaboration across state government to combat the disease of addiction by focusing on the increase in polysubstance use, stimulant use, and additional SUDs emerging in Pennsylvania.
The overarching goals of the response team align with DDAP’s existing strategic plan goals of reducing stigma, intensifying primary prevention, strengthening the drug and alcohol treatment system, and empowering sustained recovery.
In addition to taking part in this roundtable, DDAP is conducting an SUD Listening Tour, meeting with local leaders, SUD treatment providers, members of the recovery community, and other stakeholders to discuss SUD trends at the local level. This tour is in response to the increase in overdose deaths and polysubstance use throughout the commonwealth.
To date, DDAP has held seven listening sessions throughout various regions of the state and will be continuing to hold sessions in the coming weeks and months. To learn more about DDAP’s efforts in combating the addiction crisis, visit ddap.pa.gov.