Pennsylvania Association of

Community Health Centers

Supporting Pennsylvania's health centers in increasing access to quality primary health care for all

Opiate Use Disorder

A National and State Public Health Emergency

PA Get Help Now

In 2016 there were more than 4,600 drug-related overdose deaths (13 deaths each day) and thousands more affected with addiction in Pennsylvania (Analysis of Overdose Deaths in Pennsylvania, 2016).
FQHCs offer a wide range of substance use disorder (SUD) screening and treatment options working with their communities.

  • Opioid Centers of Excellence (COE).  Six health centers are designated by the PA Dept. of Human Services to coordinate care and ensure that Medicaid recipients with opioid-related SUD stay in treatment and receive follow-up care and support within their communities.
  • Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).  Many FQHCs provide onsite MAT using both Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) and/or Vivitrol (naltrexone).  All health centers conduct screening and referrals for treatment.

Help Spread the Word on PA GET HELP NOW Hotline

Posters and social media sample messages and images to help get the word out on the state’s new hotline to get individuals connected to help for opioid use disorder are available from PACHC:  Access the materials here.  

PACHC is working with state officials to come up with ways to not only connect individuals to MAT, but to also connect them to health centers as their healthcare home for medical, dental and behavioral health care.  Access the PACHC map of health centers offering medication assisted treatment (MAT) here.

Use the “Find a Health Center” feature to find medical, dental or behavioral health care in your community.

In response to the governor’s opioid epidemic disaster declaration, the Opioid Operations Command Center was established to monitor progress and coordinate resources.  To aid with monitoring the epidemic, the Opioid Data Dashboard provides state and county level data on various metrics including Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome births, successful naloxone reversals and Medicaid recipients receiving MAT plus additional prevention, rescue and treatment data. 

Other SUDs:

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD):  AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease that is characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.  It can range from mild to severe and recovery is possible regardless of severity.  The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) offers an informative fact sheet on this disease.

Tobacco Use Disorder:  Tobacco not only causes thousands of deaths per year, it affects every organ in the body as well as the physical health of those around smoking.  Smoking cessation is one of the hardest things for people to attain.  PA FREE QUITLINE is 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669).  The PA Dept. of Health maintains an online statewide listing of tobacco cessation counseling services and you can find a list of health centers that provide smoking cessation by searching under “Specialty” via “Find a Health Center.” 

Cannabis Use Disorder:  After alcohol and tobacco, Cannabis Use Disorder is the third most used drug in the U.S.  Although several states have legalized this drug and in many states medical use is now approved, the federal government does not recognize legalization.  Learn more from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).  As Pennsylvania is now allowing access to medical marijuana, health center patients may express interest in obtaining a prescription.  Please know that FQHCs cannot be involved in prescribing medical marijuana due to federal prohibitions.  NACHC has prepared an explanation as well as a sample policy and procedure

Stimulant and Tranquilizer Use Disorders:  Stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration.  The most commonly abused stimulants are amphetamines, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Stimulants can be synthetic (such as amphetamines) or can be plant-derived (such as cocaine). They are usually taken orally, snorted, or intravenously.  Tranquilizers (benzodiazepine) are sedative in their affects such as muscle relaxers, anti-anxiety medications, and anticonvulsants.  Read more about “benzo addiction.”

Hallucinogenic Use Disorder:  Hallucinogens can be chemically synthesized (as with lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD) or may occur naturally (as with psilocybin mushrooms, peyote). These drugs can produce visual and auditory hallucinations, feelings of detachment from one’s environment and oneself, and distortions in time and perception.