NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Sept. 9, 2022) – The fight against substance use disorder is increasingly complicated by the use of multiple substances by individuals, according to the 2022 Gaudenzia FrontLine Report, which was unveiled today at a news conference with senior leaders from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Washington D.C.
The video news conference and panel discussion, moderated by Gaudenzia CEO Dr. Dale Klatzker, who oversees the region’s largest non-profit provider of treatment for substance use disorders, highlighted the challenges facing those on the front lines of this health care epidemic. Those challenges included soaring overdose rates precipitated by the use of fentanyl; the impact of SUD on communities of color; the need to improve access to treatment for pregnant and parenting women and ways to attract more counselors and other personnel to address staffing shortages.
Participating in the panel discussion were Delaware Lieutenant Gov. Dr. Bethany Hall-Long, Secretary Jen Smith of the Pa. Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Deputy Director Dr. Jean Moise of the Washington D.C. Department of Behavioral Health, and The Honorable Ronald A. Silkworth, Anne Arundel County (Md.) Senior Judge.
The FrontLine Report is an annual look at substance use disorder trends in the counties in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington D.C. where Gaudenzia provides services, using data from its admissions to their licensed treatment centers during the fiscal year that ended June 30. The data shows that the epidemic of substance use disorders continues, with slight increases in admissions tied to alcohol, stimulants and hallucinogens. Another takeaway: At least 30% of Gaudenzia’s total admissions had a secondary SUD diagnosis listed.
“As this report shows, substance use disorder continues to plague our cities and states, our neighborhoods and our homes,” Klatzker said. “It is well past time to erase the stigmas that permeate substance use disorder and those afflicted by it. It is well past time to recognize that the sufferings of our fellow citizens affect us all. More needs to be done.”
“This is why we felt it was important to bring leaders from around the region together for a frank discussion about what we can do together to help.”
“The data shows that certainly coming out of the pandemic, we have the twindemic,“ said Lt. Gov. Dr. Hall-Long. “We continue to have an increase in co-occurring disorders. The data in [Delaware] is telling us that persons have been turning to polysubstance use of meth, crack and cocaine, which are now being laced even more with deadly fentanyl – a trend for which we had not necessarily seen. The optimism I have is that when we get together with jurisdictions, making sure we have the additional parity to ensure persons can get continuous wrap-around services, intensive outpatient and residential…when we provide those social determinants, we can do better.”
“Harm reduction is a great space that’s prime for expansion in most states,” said Smith. “The other area that’s really important and we [shouldn’t] forget about is recovery support space. A large number of overdose deaths [in Pennsylvania] were occurring in the recovery community, as a result of isolation, financial difficulties, not being able to do their recovery programs. We need to support all the pathways through recovery – not just focusing on certain types of support but expanding access on all of those things. And then, we can focus on the quality of all these services and the sustainability of them in a more integrated way.”
“Many of [Washington D.C. overdose] deaths are occurring in isolation – in people’s homes and residences – which makes it harder to intervene harder to engage those folks and redirect them to treatment if they’re open to it,” said Dr. Moise of Washington D.C. “82% of fatalities occurred in personal homes and residences. It’s all about harm reduction…expanding the range of access points to naloxone…supporting syringe exchange programs…and pursuing low-barrier access services within the community.”
“I hope we continue working to try to advocate for more education and increase the use of drug courts,” said Judge Silkworth. “And importantly, those who created the drug courts 30 years ago recommended that the principles that make them successful be applied to the entire work of the courts,” said Judge Silkworth. “If we do that then, I think we can make a dent in the problems.”
The county-by-county data in the FrontLine Report comes amid a report earlier this year from the CDC which suggests that fentanyl overdoses are largely responsible for contributing to the CDC’s staggering number of 107,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2021, equaling to about one U.S. overdose death every five minutes. Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids accounted for more than 71,000 overdoses, up 23% from the previous year. The Drug Enforcement Administration recently warned that illegal drug manufacturers are targeting children and young adults with “rainbow fentanyl”—pills and powder that come in an assortment of candy-looking colors, shapes and sizes and have been seized by law enforcement agencies in 18 states in just the past month.
“I can’t begin to tell you how insidious that is” said Klatzker.
The annual Gaudenzia FrontLine Report is meant to help local and state officials, including law enforcement, social service agencies and elected representatives, along with media and others, better understand what is happening in their communities. The Frontline Report will be released annually. The data comes from the more than 13,000 people admitted to Gaudenzia programs during the fiscal year that ended in June. This year’s report provides a side-by-side comparison of data from the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years.
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More information on Gaudenzia’s evidence-based treatment programs for people with substance use and co-occurring disorders, , can be found at www.gaudenzia.org. Those who are in need of treatment can call Gaudenzia’s 24/7 Treatment and Recovery Helpline at 833-976-HELP (4357).
ABOUT GAUDENZIA, INC.
Gaudenzia, Inc. is one of the largest nonprofit substance use and co-occurring disorders treatment centers in the United States, with 51 facilities operating in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. The agency serves about 15,000 individuals annually and operates 120 programs providing a full continuum of care. Since 1968, Gaudenzia has provided specialized services and programs to for all demographics, including pregnant and parenting mothers, adolescents, people with co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders, and more. Those seeking help can call Gaudenzia’s 24/7 Treatment and Recovery Helpline at 833-976-HELP (4357). For more information, visit www.Gaudenzia.org.