Office Locations 

District Address
2424 Bristol Road
Neshaminy Valley Commons
Bensalem, PA 19020
Telephone: (215) 750-1017
Fax: (215) 750-1295

Capitol Address
49 East Wing
PO Box 202018
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2018
Telephone: (717) 783-7319
Fax: (717) 772-2414

It’s the Law: Can’t We Do Better Than This?
11/7/2011
Several years ago, families began to bring me large, poster-size pictures of loved ones who lost their lives to untreated alcohol and drug addictions. The pictures are bright, cheerful portraits taken before drugs and alcohol exacted their toll. I keep them close, across the desk from me as I work in my office in the state Capitol. These young people and their stories have set my legislative agenda for many years and now compel me to write this op-ed.

In July of this year, a law in our state went into effect with the express purpose of addressing the drug and alcohol abuse problem in our neighborhoods in a new and streamlined fashion. Building on the existing Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs and its diffuse authority, the law establishes a Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to bring badly needed focus and centralized, streamlined leadership to the state’s drug and alcohol abuse prevention and addiction treatment efforts.

By converting the existing Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs into a new department, this high level, cross-agency coordination can be achieved at minimal cost and will be key in reducing drug and alcohol-fueled crime, prison overcrowding, and drug- and alcohol-related accidents and health care problems.

I am deeply disappointed to report that despite near unanimous support from the Pennsylvania Legislature and the dozens of statewide drug and alcohol prevention and addiction treatment and recovery organizations, the administration has failed to implement this life-saving new law.

I am writing today because I am utterly baffled by this failure to act on the law.

We need to ask ourselves – are we making any progress here? Untreated drug and alcohol abuse and addiction continue to be our state’s No. 1 health problem – filling our emergency rooms with victims of accidents and alcohol- and drug-fueled crime, overdoses and health care conditions caused or worsened by alcohol and drugs. Untreated drug and alcohol abuse and addiction are also our state’s No. 1 criminal justice problem – crowding our jails and prisons with perpetrators of alcohol- and drug-related crime.

A quick review of news clips from around Pennsylvania is telling. The heroin, oxycontin, percocet, cocaine, alcohol, methamphetamine, prescription drug problem is epidemic in our cities, our suburbs and even, in our most rural communities. Daily, I read about overdose deaths of young people, deaths on our highways, drug- and alcohol-related crimes.

Our friends in law enforcement battle this problem daily, valiantly, often at the risk of their lives.

It is time that we step up and ensure that alcohol and drug abuse prevention and addiction treatment community have the tools and leadership to join our partners in law enforcement to address our state’s most critical crime and health care problem.

As I write this op-ed, across from my desk, I see the faces of the young people who have lost their lives to drugs and alcohol.

Gov. Corbett, we need your leadership. It’s time to get started. The law establishing the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs went into law effect July 1. What do you think – haven’t we waited long enough?

State Representative Gene DiGirolamo
18th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

GeneDiGirolamo.com
Facebook.com/GeneDiGirolamo
Contact: Jennifer Keaton 
jkeaton@pahousegop.com 
717.705.2094

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