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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 3, 2017 09:39 AM
From: Senator James R. Brewster
To: All Senate members
Subject: Addiction Treatment Professional Loan Forgiveness Program
In the near future I will be reintroducing SB 1211 from last session to address the opioid epidemic confronting Pennsylvania.

The extent of the addiction and overdose death epidemic in Pennsylvania is appalling, causing at least seven victims to die every day from drug overdoses. There were over 2,500 overdose deaths in PA in 2014 and more than 3,500 overdose deaths in 2015.

A PA State Coroners Association report stated that heroin was present in nearly 60 percent of overdose deaths.
Drugs prescribed to treat addiction were found in 14 percent of overdose victims. Men made up 67 percent of overdose victims, 84 percent were white, 13 percent were black, three percent were Hispanic.

Additionally, the highest rates of drug overdose deaths were found in counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, those surrounding Philadelphia and in the northeast near Scranton.

Some estimates are that 80-88% of current heroin users switched to heroin when prescription opioids became too expensive or too difficult to procure.

The opioid crisis and the necessary programmatic reactions are going to create a need to substantially increase the number of trained professionals to provide services to individuals in addiction treatment. In order to attract more young people to fill these slots PHEAA will be responsible for developing an addiction treatment professional loan forgiveness program.

The program will offer qualified alcohol and drug addiction counselors student loan forgiveness up to $7,500 per year for up to four years, totaling up to $30,000. The counselor must agree to work at a licensed drug and alcohol treatment facility for at least 4 years.

Introduced as SB536