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Authors Posts by Jason Snyder

Jason Snyder

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The newly established Pennsylvania Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (PCC AP) is now offering certification and training for clinical supervisors and counselors who provide clinical treatment services in licensed substance use disorder (SUD) treatment facilities. Historically in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Certification Board (PCB) has provided these certifications and trainings.

PCC AP, which also offers SUD and mental health peer certification, is affiliated with the Pennsylvania Association of Addiction Professionals and the National Association of Addiction Professionals (NAADAC). Both PCB and PCC AP/NAADAC offer certifications and training beneficial to those in the SUD field.

PCC AP aligns with Pennsylvania regulations and is currently providing a test-exempt period from February 1, 2024, to December 31, 2024. During this time, field licensure or certification holders can obtain PCC AP certification without a test, including certification for peers, counselors, and supervisors.

Detailed information about each certification level, including application processes and fees, can be found on the NAADAC website. Additionally, an FAQ page is available.

Registration for the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging’s (P4A) 2024 Aging and Behavioral Health Conference is now open. The conference agenda will equip behavioral health practitioners and professionals with essential tools and knowledge regarding mental health and substance use disorders affecting older adults. The conference is set for May 29 – 30 at the Best Western Premier Hotel & Conference Center in Harrisburg. The deadline for registration is Friday, May 17. You can register and find details regarding the conference here.

Pennsylvania state Reps. Maureen Madden (D) and Jim Struzzi (R) last week issued a bi-partisan co-sponsorship memo seeking support among their colleagues for a bill that will force the Department of Human Services (DHS) to take a more active role in Pennsylvania’s Opioid Use Disorder Centers of Excellence (COE) while forcing consistency and eliminating interpretation among the five behavioral health managed care organizations (BH-MCO).

RCPA has been working to address multiple components of COE inconsistency, including: interpretation of COE definition; compliance with COE requirements; and policies, procedures, and payment models being implemented by the commonwealth’s five BH-MCOs.

RCPA, on behalf of its SUD treatment provider members that operate COEs, has repeatedly asked DHS to enforce consistency in the COE program from MCO to MCO. Despite DHS considering the COEs overall to be a “wild success,” they have refused to take any action to ensure the success continues in the transition to managed care. In the past several months, RCPA and provider members that operate COEs have testified in front of the House Democratic Policy Committee and the House Human Services Committee on the disjointed and burdensome transition of the COEs into Pennsylvania’s Medicaid state plan. You can read RCPA’s testimony or watch the Human Services hearing.

The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) has issued Licensing Alert 05-2024 to provide and organize guidance on the interpretation and implementation of regulatory licensing requirements for staff education, training, and supervision, as well as client-to-staff/counselor ratios for drug and alcohol treatment providers.

DDAP has issued individual licensing alerts over time that focus on specific regulation topics. This licensing alert organizes previous relevant active licensing alerts, as well as provide additional guidance for Chapter 704 staffing regulations.

Licensing Alert 05-2024 is available online.

Folders with the label Applications and Grants

The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) announced the availability of $6.5 million in funding to expand drop-in center services for individuals with substance use disorders (SUD) across Pennsylvania.

Drop-in centers provide a safe, judgment-free place for people to receive daily essentials, engage with staff to learn about the possibility of recovery and treatment options, and, when ready, get connected to those services. They also provide harm reduction and recovery support services.

Eligible applicants, including existing community organizations, single county authorities, and DDAP-licensed treatment providers, can find the grant application online. Approximately eight grants of up to $750,000 will be awarded.

Some examples of services provided by drop-in centers include but are not limited to:

  • Harm-reduction for substance use by incorporating overdose prevention and legally permissible harm reduction efforts into existing services;
  • Addressing social determinants of health through the provision of daily essentials;
  • Access to care and case management systems;
  • Access to free healthcare including wound care, Hepatitis C/HIV testing, reproductive healthcare, and dental care;
  • Referrals to SUD level of care assessments, treatment, including medication for opioid use disorder, behavior health resources, case management services, benefits services, and legal services;
  • Survival resources such as shelter and warmth or cooling;
  • Public restrooms, shower, and laundry facilities;
  • Clothing and hygiene product distribution;
  • Mail services;
  • Professionally facilitated support groups which offer education, emotional and social support, practical help, and more; and
  • Advocacy and other supportive services required to navigate complex issues impacting special populations.

DDAP is placing a focus on health equity as a part of this grant opportunity. Applicants must include a description of their current engagement with diverse populations, including communities of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, persons with disabilities, and those residing in rural and urban settings, and provide detailed information about how the project will engage and provide access to these diverse populations.

All applications must be submitted electronically by 12:00 pm on Friday, April 12, 2024. Applications will be competitively reviewed and scored based upon the applicant’s adherence to the funding announcement guidelines and a timely submission to DDAP.

Funding for these grants is provided from the opioid settlement funding that was appropriated to DDAP by the General Assembly for the 2023/24 fiscal year.

Questions regarding the grants and the application process should be forwarded via email.

The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) is conducting a survey on regulatory reform that will help guide its work in this area. The survey is available online, and responses are due by close of business March 28, 2024. Regulations governing licensed addiction treatment providers under DDAP’s authority can be found in the Pennsylvania Code and Bulletin. If you have any questions, please contact Cynthia Beidler.

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As Pennsylvania pushes to legalize recreational marijuana, recent research suggests doing so could have harmful effects for adolescents, including a potential increase in suicide.

The study, “Cannabis use disorder, suicide attempts, and self-harm among adolescents: A national inpatient study across the United States,” examined the association between cannabis use disorder (CUD) and suicide/self-harm in a large, nationally representative sample of hospitalized adolescents. It found that adolescents with CUD were 40 percent more likely to experience a suicide attempt or self-harm.

Although the inpatient study does not directly tie an increase in adolescent suicide to legalization of recreational marijuana, there is an association between marijuana legalization and the increased risk of cannabis use disorder among adolescents. As more adolescents experience CUD, then, the potential for more suicides also increases.

In his 2024-2025 Budget Book, Governor Shapiro, acknowledging that all of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states except West Virginia have legalized recreational marijuana, says now is the time for the commonwealth to do so as well. His budget proposes legalization of adult use marijuana effective July 1, 2024, with sales within Pennsylvania beginning January 1, 2025.

The governor’s plan estimates about $14.8 million in revenue in the industry’s first year of operation, with more than $250 million in annual tax revenue expected once the industry is established.

In its review of the inpatient study, the Recovery Research Institute (RRI) suggests policymakers develop policies and funding structures that appropriately educate the public about the risks of cannabis use, and support those who are currently using, as a way to potentially help reduce the public health burden of cannabis use and suicidal behaviors among adolescents.

For treatment providers, RRI points out that cannabis use was uniquely associated with suicidal behaviors among adolescents being treated in an inpatient setting over and above well-known risks such as depression. Furthermore, those with both CUD and depression were at an even greater risk, concluding, then, that it is likely helpful to conduct thorough screenings for each of these issues if an individual presents with one of them.

The governor has proposed millions of dollars to address Pennsylvania’s growing mental health needs. With legalization of recreational marijuana seemingly inevitable in the commonwealth’s near future, even more resources will be needed to address the inevitable substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health issues Pennsylvanians of all ages will likely face following legalization. With a quarter of a billion dollars expected in eventual annual revenue from legalized marijuana, a significant portion of that sum must be committed to SUD and mental health treatment providers.