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Published on April 02, 2024
Shapiro Administration's DDAP Enters Phase 2 in Berks County to Confront Opioid CrisisSource: Google Street View

In a significant move to tackle the opioid and overdose crises plaguing communities, the Shapiro Administration, through the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), has advanced to Phase 2 of its statewide stakeholder engagement tour with a visit to Berks County. Secretary Dr. Latika Davis-Jones led the charge, meeting with local service providers and stakeholders to deliberate over the urgent needs and ongoing efforts to combat these life-threatening issues facing residents.

In Berks County, the talks delved deep into the collaborative work between government bodies and treatment centers. Secretary Davis-Jones stated, "The Shapiro Administration knows it’s going to take all of us at every level of government to address the overdose and opioid public health crises," according to a press release. The visit not only included discussions but also featured a look into the operations of Berks Counseling Center, and an interactive music therapy session at recovery house Easy Does It, Inc.

Kathleen Noll, SCA Administrator, welcomed the Secretary's efforts and emphasized the importance of today's discussions for local agencies, "The discussion today will help the SCA and provider agencies to offer high quality prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services to the residents of Berks County as our community continues to battle the overdose crisis," she told the press. As Berks County's drug and alcohol office is the coordinating agency for publicly supported drug and alcohol programming, these talks are crucial for shaping the county's defense against the epidemic.

During this phase, DDAP aims to glean insights on regulatory reform, capitalizing on the feedback from its previous engagements. The department's action items include an $18 million loan repayment program to bolster the Substance Use Disorder workforce, workgroups for regulatory reform, and training for regional recovery hubs to support equity coalitions. DDAP, also, plans to focus on health equity and treatment slot management in the upcoming discussions.

The statewide tour is an ambitious attempt by DDAP to bring various perspectives into the conversation, particularly those from individuals in recovery, service providers, and community leaders among others. Further stops include Lehigh County, Blair County, Westmoreland County, illustrating the administration's commitment to a broad and inclusive approach in its relentless fight against the opioid and overdose crises.