January 12, 2018 – Addiction treatment experts are encouraged by Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to declare the opioid epidemic as a state emergency in Pennsylvania.
The executive waives more than a dozen state regulations that will help people struggling with the disease of addiction into treatment and address the number of drug overdoses.
Stephen Lankenau , a professor of Community Health and Prevention at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health, shared his insight with WHYY on what the measure means in the effort to combat the drug crisis and addiction:
On whether Wolf’s declaration goes far enough to make a difference:
“I think it’s an important first step. It certainly does improve some inner-agency communications. It helps to reduce some barriers for access to Naloxone along with barriers to treatment. It doesn’t seem to offer any new immediate funding for the problem, so I think following the 90-day period, hopefully, there will be additional resources dedicated to the problem that could really have an important impact.”
On how the declaration loosens some rules to treat opioid addicts more quickly:
“One is when EMTs show up to an overdose event, they administer Naloxone and apparently the rules have prevented them from leaving behind Naloxone. So now they can offer someone who just was reversed additional doses of Naloxone that could prevent future overdoses, as well as some barriers around getting into drug treatment. Someone who is homeless would often need to present a birth certificate to get into drug treatment, so those kinds of barriers have been eliminated.”
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Read and listen to the full interview on WHYY.