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DHS Secretary Ted Dallas says the “Centers of Excellence” will help address the root causes of addiction, not just the surface level issues.

(Harrisburg) — People addicted to heroin will soon have a chance to get more help in the midstate: the state has selected 4 different sites for “Centers of Excellence”.

Behavioral and physical health care providers, care navigators, and people who can help with housing and food will all work at the centers.

The idea is to better coordinate care, and address the root cause of a heroin or other opioid addiction.

“If you don’t hit the underlying cause or the root cause and you’re only treating the symptom, you’re only going to be so successful,” says  Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas.

“So if that person was abusing drugs because they have a behavioral health problem they’re not getting help for, even if we detox them, if we don’t help them address that behavioral health issue, the chances that they’ll go back to using goes up dramatically.”

Maryland, Missouri, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have all used similar models.

Dallas says the centers will also provide methadone or another similar drug, which is used to wean people off heroin.

“Medication assisted therapy is emerging as the standard of care and the thing that will treat in the most cost-effective way and most effective way, a substance use disorder, but you have to remember that everybody’s different,” he adds.

Providers in Berks, Dauphin, Lancaster and York counties won the money to set up the 4 centers. They are: New Directions Treatment Services in Berks, Pennsylvania Counseling Services in Dauphin and York counties, and TW Ponessa & Associates Counseling Services, Inc., in Lancaster.

A total of 20 will be up and running statewide by October 1st, and Secretary Dallas says he expects 4,500 people will come through the doors in the first year.

The state is spending $15 million on the centers, which are primarily for people with Medicaid, but will take private insurance as well.

Dallas is hoping to use more federal money to set up more Centers of Excellence, and expects an answer in mid-August.