Pennsylvania residents recovering from drug-related disorder deserve safe housing with support | Opinion
As a state and a nation, the drug crisis is devastatingly affecting us all. For proof, look no further than a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control that the number of overdose deaths has reached a new record across the country in 2021. In Pennsylvania, this is strong content, as we now see that the number of deaths from overdoses in 2021 is ahead of only what we saw in the midst of the 2017 opioid epidemic.
We are at a turning point in this crisis – between grief and hope. At the same time, as we see an increase in overdose deaths, the Wolf Administration is repeatedly urging us to loosen control over this public health crisis, providing everyone with access to treatment and continuing to recover.
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Everyone has a different way of recovery; but for many one of the critical stops after treatment is moving to a wellness home. Restoration Homes provide direct links to other recovery participants, mutual support groups and support services to prepare people for the transition to a life of recovery.
Healing is a time to celebrate and be proud, but it is also a very vulnerable time in someone’s life. Unfortunately, we have seen that too many bad actors have taken advantage of this vulnerability due to lack of standards or remedies, which has led to an unknown number of substandard facilities exploiting this vulnerable population.
That’s why Gov. Tom Wolfe has signed legislation that gives the Department of Drugs and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) the authority and responsibility to license rehab homes – just as the Commonwealth does for drug and alcohol treatment facilities. Last December, DDAP published regulations on licensing refurbishment homes and announced that the licensing program is officially open and accepting applications.
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The goal of the licensing program is to support the sustainable recovery of people with drug-related disorders by providing a network of safe drug and alcohol recovery homes across the Commonwealth.
The Rehabilitation Home Licensing Regulations contain a number of provisions designed to protect residents in the areas of health and safety, finance, and residents ’rights, some of which include training of staff on naloxone use, CPR, first aid, and on-site storage of naloxone; and non-discriminatory practices based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, economic status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity / identification.
Rehabilitation homes must be licensed by DDAP if they receive federal or state funding, referral from government agencies, and / or referral for individuals whose treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs) is funded from federal or state funding.
Starting June 9, DDAP will have the power to impose fines, up to $ 1,000 a day, on operators of any unlicensed homes that receive government funding.
As this deadline is fast approaching, DDAP is here to help.
- Our Licensing Programs Office offers a free training seminar designed to answer a variety of questions related to the application process. Attendance at the seminar reduces the amount of time required to approve applications.
- The names, locations, and additional information about each DDAP-licensed recovery home in Pennsylvania are regularly updated in DDAP Object locator. A searchable map will also be available on the DDAP website in the coming weeks.
- More information about the application process can be found on the Recovery House page DDAP site.
At DDAP, our ultimate vision is for all Pennsylvania residents to live free or cured of addiction. Licensing rehab homes is a significant step in providing safe, affordable housing for Pennsylvania residents who have recovered after SUD.
We hope the program will give family members some confidence and peace of mind as to where their loved one lives, and will ultimately help reverse the overdose trends we are experiencing here in Pennsylvania.
Jennifer Smith is secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Drugs and Alcohol. She writes from Harrisburg.