facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Drug and Alcohol Treatment  Heroin

Pennsylvania's New Addiction Dept Holds Promise

The architects of Pennsylvania's drug and alcohol department tell The Fix why it offers new hope.

Image: 

Gene DiGirolamo successfully pushed for
the new department. Photo via

By Jennifer Matesa

01/30/12

| Share

Advocates for better drug and alcohol treatment in Pennsylvania welcomed the decision of Gov. Tom Corbett last week to nominate Philadelphia attorney Gary Tennis as secretary of the state’s new Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, launched as a result of the passage of a 2010 law. Tennis is former chief of the legislation unit in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and served as executive director of President Clinton’s Commission on Model State Drug Laws in 1993. “Gary Tennis knows an awful lot about addiction,” Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) tells The Fix. DiGirolamo was the 2010 law’s primary sponsor; he has a 36-year-old son with 11 years in recovery. “This was our main goal, creating a cabinet-level position,” he says. Federal law requires every state to have a single authority on drug and alcohol treatment. But until now Pennsylvania’s drug-and-alcohol treatment bureau was “buried in the department of health,” as he puts it.

Deb Beck—who is president of the Drug and Alcohol Services Providers of Pennsylvania, and worked with DiGirolamo on the bill—says addiction reaches into one in four families in the state, and that the new department will streamline efforts to organize treatment systems and guide those seeking treatment. It should save money, too, by keeping people out of the criminal justice system and bringing them into treatment. “I also expect there’ll be a lot of tightening up throughout the state,” Beck tells us. For example, the state’s DUI law is administered by the state department of transportation, “but the quality-control piece on the treatment will now be coordinated out of this new agency,” she explains. “They’ll pull everything together and coordinate—to make sure every entity of government is using the best treatment, from the bureau of corrections, to county corrections, to the department of transportation, and they’ll focus on getting the best prevention programs in the schools.” In the 2010 vote on the law, just three out of 203 house members opposed, Beck notes. "That's kind of unusual for something like this, considering the stigma against addiction."

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
Big Brother, Where Art Thou?

I barely made it out of my troubled adolescence and I had resources; how can I help an underprivileged teen with everything stacked against him?

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious San Diego rehab has a program for you—if you can tear yourself away from “the most amazing massages ever."

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv