Department of Human Services to Fund Opioid Treatment Centers in Lehigh and Montgomery Counties, Says Simmons
HARRISBURG – Funding has been secured for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) to open 20 Centers of Excellence (COE) statewide by Oct. 1, including two in Lehigh and Montgomery counties, said Rep. Justin Simmons (R-Lehigh/Montgomery/Northampton). The COEs will offer treatment to residents with opioid-related substance use disorder.

The local COEs are Treatment Trends Inc. in Lehigh County and Resources for Human Development Inc./Montgomery County Methadone Center.

“The opioid and heroin epidemic is impacting communities in every corner of the Commonwealth, including the Lehigh Valley,” said Simmons. “These Centers of Excellence will be taking a different approach in addressing the problem by treating the underlying causes of a person’s addiction. I applaud the Wolf administration for its efforts to concentrate the state’s resources on this important issue.”

According to the department, the COEs coordinate care for people with Medicaid. Rather than just treating the addiction, DHS will treat the entire person through team-based treatment, with the explicit goal of integrating behavioral health and primary care and, when necessary, evidence-based medication- assisted treatment.

The current path of treatment for people who have opioid-related substance use disorders can be confusing and difficult to navigate. The links between behavioral health treatment and physical health treatment are often broken or not made at all. This means people may drop out of treatment after they receive care for their physical symptoms, bypassing critical components of care such as behavioral therapies and connection to community supports that can lead to meaningful recovery from substance use disorder.

The Centers of Excellence are a central, efficient hub around which treatment revolves. These centers will have navigators to assist people with opioid-related substance use disorders though the medical system, and ensure they receive behavioral and physical health care, as well as any evidence-based medication-assisted treatment needed.

The use of medication (like buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone), coupled with wrap-around supportive services, can prevent people from relapsing and improve their chances for recovery, ultimately driving the aforementioned statistics in the opposite direction.

“Since opioids are so powerful, those who try to recover need different types of help in order to beat the disease. In fact, this approach has gained huge momentum as the most modern and successful way to support recovery, especially from opioids,” said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. “The intense cravings, detoxification, and withdrawal symptoms involved in quitting make addiction difficult to overcome. As our strategy involves both behavioral therapy and FDA-approved medication that individuals take to help curb cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms, it can improve the odds of recovery.”

The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs will license the COEs as drug and alcohol providers that provide one of the three FDA-approved medications.

Representative Justin Simmons
131st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Andy Briggs
717.260.6474 /