Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jen Smith recently joined Library Mid Atlantic High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area to discuss the need to expand the lens of focus from opioids to fighting overall substance use disorder with the increase of polysubstance and stimulant use across the commonwealth.
“Throughout the past year and a half, the Wolf Administration has been able to reevaluate our role in combating substance use disorder,” said Smith. “With the increase in polysubstance use and stimulants across the commonwealth, we have recommitted ourselves to tackling substance use disorder as a whole with the goal of offsetting the devastating increase in overdose deaths.”
Part of this recommitment is the transition from the Opioid Command Center to the Interagency Substance Use Response Team – a new tool for collaboration across state government to combat the disease of addiction. In replacing the current OCC structure, this newly-established group will shift its focus from solely opioids to all SUDs due to the increase in polysubstance use, stimulant use, and additional SUDs emerging in Pennsylvania.
This group will serve as a platform to make informed decisions with the goal of resolving policy, media, procedural, and/or funding matters in relation to SUD and the addiction crisis across the commonwealth. The overarching goals of this group will remain fairly consistent with the OCC Strategic Plan’s goals of prevention, rescue, treatment, recovery and sustainability.
However, specific focus on these goals will be looked at through the lens of DDAP’s existing strategic plan goals of reducing stigma, intensifying primary prevention, strengthening the drug and alcohol treatment system, and empowering sustained recovery.
“Given the increased overdose deaths in 2020, the substance use and mental health challenges COVID-19 has exacerbated, and the ending of the opioid disaster declaration in 2021, our resolve to address the crisis remains unchanged,” said Smith. “However, this moment in time gives us the opportunity to improve upon what we learned and adjust our strategy accordingly.”