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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 17, 2018 02:02 PM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: Emergency addiction treatment
In the near future, I will be re-introducing SB 533 from the 2017-2018 session, in particular to help address the opioid overdose epidemic in Pennsylvania.

In 2016, Pennsylvania had the fifth-highest death rate in the country for opioid overdoses, continuing an annual tragic pattern of increasing deaths. In my home county, Berks, drug deaths more than doubled from 2015. Statewide, the increase was more than 44 percent, underscoring a University of Pittsburgh report that fatal drug overdoses in the Commonwealth had already increased 1400 percent from 1979 to 2014. Every corner of our state has been affected, and current numbers are likely to continue to reflect the past experience. Preliminary numbers from the federal Centers for Disease Control project a further increase in 2017, aggravated by the emergent use of fentanyl, to more than 72,000 deaths nationally - well above the 40,000 traffic deaths reported for that year. And the deaths represent only the final tragic outcome of addiction and substance use disorder, not the full cost in lives and finances ruined.

My proposal will create an Emergency Addiction Treatment Program under the
Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to expand treatment space at existing long-term residential addiction treatment facilities and licensed halfway homes, and brand-new facilities. The program will also provide for new intake methods to help get information to the addicted, their families and friends, including advice and assistance in accessing treatment, and to collect data to identify patterns of addiction. Previous sponsors during 2017-2018 included Senators Costa, Sabatina, Tartaglione, Brewster, Browne, Blake and Hughes.

I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.

Introduced as SB41