To commemorate Recovery Month in Pennsylvania, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jen Smith ’04 joined Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania’s president, Dr. Charles E. Patterson, faculty, alumni and students to highlight the importance of accessible supports for individuals in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) at the collegiate level.

National Recovery Month is observed throughout the month of September to recognize the gains made in the lives of individuals living in recovery from SUD and show that every day, people can and do recover. The 2022 National Recovery Month theme is “Recovery is For Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.”

“People can and do recover from the disease of addiction, including young adults. We’ve learned in recent years the addiction crisis does not discriminate by age and one of the hardest hit group of folks in Pennsylvania are traditionally college-aged adults aged 18-30,” said DDAP Secretary Jen Smith. “Partners at post-secondary institutions are critical to making sure recovery supports are accessible to those on campus who need them. It is humbling to return to my own alma mater, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, to see first-hand their Recovery Resource Space.” 

The university’s Recovery Resource Space is integrated within the Raider Wellness Resource Center, which is focused on providing resources, programming, and services centered in holistic wellness in collaboration with students, staff, and faculty. The Recovery Resource Space offers trainings, speakers, workshops, peer-led support groups, and drop-in resources including referrals.

“We are honored to welcome Secretary Smith to Shippensburg University as we recognize National Recovery Month. We are dedicated to the success of our students in recovery and proud of the work happening in our Recovery Resource Space. We will continue to prioritize a network of support on our campus and within our community that provides the resources and encouragement they need,” said Dr. Charles E. Patterson, president of Shippensburg University.

According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2020, the percentage of people with a substance use disorder in the past year was highest among those 18 to 25 years old at 24.4%, amounting to 8.2 million people.

Furthermore, while there is data pointing to a decrease in illicit drug use among pre-college adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic, an analysis published in April in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the mortality rate from drug overdoses rose by 94% between 2019 and 2020 among U.S. teens 14 to 18 years old.

“We continue to face an increasingly potent and deadly drug supply. We must expand on what we know works and continue to bolster prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery supports at every level, every day,” said Smith. “The Wolf Administration’s efforts go far beyond this month.”

Since Governor Tom Wolf took office, his administration has placed a heavy focus on reducing stigma, intensifying primary prevention efforts, strengthening Pennsylvania’s drug and alcohol treatment system, and empowering sustained recovery by:

  • Implementing Life Unites Us, the first-of-its-kind, evidence-based stigma reduction campaign which reached nearly four million Pennsylvanians in year one,
  • Collecting more than 1 million pounds of prescription medication across more than 889 take-back boxes in all 67 Pennsylvania counties,
  • Launching Pennsylvania’s Get Help Now Hotline, which has connected an average of 21 Pennsylvanians per day directly to substance use disorder treatment,
  • Expanding access to naloxone in communities through Pennsylvania’s standing order, free distribution days, and mail-order naloxone program,
  • Implementing Warm Handoff Programs in 95 percent of Pennsylvania’s hospitals and referring more than 27,000 individuals to SUD treatment through those programs,
  • Increasing access to medication-assisted treatment and treatment for uninsured and underinsured individuals with SUD,
  • Awarding over $14 million in federal funding to recovery community organizations, and
  • Expanding a new, free, and confidential SUD treatment locator resource, Addiction Treatment Locator, Assessment, and Standards Platform (ATLAS) to Pennsylvania.

Individuals looking for substance use disorder treatment options or resources for themselves, or a loved one can call DDAP’s Get Help Now Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). This helpline is free and confidential and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.