Pennsylvania Addiction Treatment
Cocaine and marijuana alternate between the first and second most commonly abused drugs in Pennsylvania. Despite a decrease in the number of other illicit substances, cocaine and marijuana have consistently held their position for primary drug treatment admissions.
Pennsylvania has the 14th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the U.S. The state also leads the nation in drug overdose deaths among young adult men ages 19-25.
The most frequently abused drugs in Pennsylvania include:
Many cities and regions in Pennsylvania are impacted by different drugs. Philadelphia, for example, is the hub of drug-related activities within the state and Mid-Atlantic region. More drugs are transported and distributed through Philadelphia than the rest of Pennsylvania. The Port of Philadelphia is the second busiest port on the Atlantic Coast in total import cargo volume. This provides Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) an opportunity to smuggle large amounts of drugs, specifically cocaine, marijuana and heroin, into the state. Another transit route for drugs entering Pennsylvania is Interstate 95. The interstate extends from Florida to Maine and passes through Philadelphia, making it an easy target for drug traffickers.
Other cities, including Pittsburgh, Reading and Eerie, have also seen a steady increase in drug abuse cases. Local law enforcement agencies believe drugs transported around Pittsburgh are kept within the state and sold to nearby retail distributors. The primary risks for Reading are wholesale quantities of marijuana, and smaller amounts of cocaine and heroin that pass through the city on the way to eastern Pennsylvania. Erie, on the other hand, involves international smugglers who transport drugs from Canada into the U.S. Drugs, primarily marijuana products, are often moved using airdrops and cigarette boats across Lake Erie.
With drugs entering various cities across Pennsylvania on a daily basis, statewide organizations are initiating programs to educate the public about the dangers of drug abuse.
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Laws Of Pennsylvania Drug Use
Pennsylvania has severe sentences for possession, distribution and manufacturing of illicit drugs. Legal consequences vary based on the type of drug and amount involved. Drugs with the greatest risk of dependency have more serious penalties than those that are less likely to be abused. For example, possessing more than five grams of cocaine comes with a minimum of five years in prison.
For controlled substances, including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, sentences are as follows:
|Number of Offenses||Legal Sentence|
|First offense||One year in prison, and/or $5,000 fine|
|Second offense||Two years in prison|
|Third offense||Three years in prison|
Marijuana Laws In Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana in April 2016. It will take the Pennsylvania Department of Health roughly 18 to 24 months to complete the process of implementing the state’s medical marijuana program.
Once regulations are set for the new medical marijuana program, Pennsylvanians with qualifying conditions will be able to obtain limited amounts of marijuana.
Once the program is implemented, qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania will include:
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Crohn’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Intractable seizures
- Intractable spasticity
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sickle cell anemia
- Severe chronic or intractable pain
- Terminal illness (defined as 12 months or fewer to live)
Medical marijuana patients will be limited to a 30-day supply at any given time. The possession limit also encompasses cannabis-infused oils, topical ointments, tinctures and liquids. Patients will be required to obtain marijuana from licensed dispensaries as home cultivation is not allowed.
Although the medical marijuana program has taken effect, recreational use of the drug is still illegal. Possessing, distributing or cultivating marijuana for personal uses will result in jail time and fines. While a person may be eligible for conditional release for their first offense, later convictions can lead to a doubled penalty.
|Marijuana Amount||Criminal Charge||Potential Sentence|
|30 g or less||Misdemeanor||30 days in jail and $500 fine|
|More than 30 g||Misdemeanor||1 year in jail and $5,000 fine|
Addiction Treatment Laws In Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) has reported significant success in recent years.
The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) in Pennsylvania collects medication information from 3,000 pharmacies to help reduce drug abuse.
Through the PDMP database, physicians and pharmacists are able to provide better patient care, detect early warning signs of drug abuse and identify potential insurance fraud cases. State-to-state sharing of prescription information also plays a vital role in catching drug shoppers. Data is kept confidential and requests for information are strictly limited to law enforcement officials.
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program
As part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, Pennsylvania’s law enforcement agencies work to develop strategic plans that will reduce drug trafficking.
Some of HIDTA’s current projects include:
- Domestic Highway Enforcement Project: Aimed at roads known for drug smuggling. After hundreds of traffic stops, the project has led to arrests for drug, money and weapon smuggling.
- HEADS-UP Prevention Program: Works with adolescents in middle and high school to increase their awareness of drug abuse and dangerous gangs.
- Southwest Border Money Laundering Alliance Data Sharing: The Philadelphia/Camden HIDTA program’s partnership with Arizona’s HIDTA to share real-time information about money transfers that go through Western Union and affiliated companies. This will help trace the flow of illegal drug proceed sales in Pennsylvania to drug cartels operating near Arizona’s southern region.
David’s Law – Opioid Overdose Reversal Act 139
Like many states across the nation, Pennsylvania has seen a rise in drug-related deaths caused by heroin and prescription opioids. Currently, one in four Pennsylvania families struggle with substance abuse.
The passing of ACT 139 will now allow first responders, friends and family members to carry naloxone, an opioid overdose medicine. Naloxone works by reversing the harmful effects of an opioid overdose by preventing respiratory and central nervous system depression. The medication is administered by injection and will kick in within minutes.
After administering naloxone, an emergency medical team should be contacted immediately. This life-saving medication counteracts dangerous overdose symptoms and helps get people back on their feet.
Treatment Centers In Pennsylvania
Many Pennsylvania treatment centers provide comprehensive recovery services such as inpatient or outpatient rehab, counseling, support groups and medication-assisted therapy. Community programs fall under county program offices known as Single County Authorities (SCAs). The county SCAs determine if someone is eligible to receive state-funded financial assistance for treatment. Depending on the type of service and treatment facilities, Medicaid and private insurance plans may help offset the cost as well.
If the rehab facilities in your area do not provide specific services and recovery options that fit what you’re looking for, consider options out of state. An out-of-state facility gives you much-needed space away from negative people and allows you to focus entirely on overcoming your addiction. Studies have shown that treatment out of state can prove to be more successful for long-term recovery than those nearby.
Long distance treatment keeps you away from the three most influential addiction triggers: people, places and things.
Pennsylvania Treatment Programs For Inmates
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections offers several treatment programs for its offenders who are suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction. There are programs available for medium to high risk offenders, as well as self-help courses which are voluntary.
Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) treatment programs are available in most facilities statewide. Programs may include:
- Outpatient Program: A 41-session program held three times each week for medium to high risk offenders.
- AOD Therapeutic Community: A daily treatment program for medium to high risk offenders that consists of three phases. It takes roughly four months to complete successfully.
- Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and SMART: Voluntary self-help program facilities by AOD peer assistants or community volunteers.
- Recovery Program: Voluntary program focused on recovery-centered programs such as SHIELD, HEP C, SAMHSA Matrix and Addictions Journaling.
Addiction is a disease that can be treatable. Contact a treatment provider today to discuss available treatment options.