Skip to Content

Press Releases

Dr. Joyce to Gov. Wolf: Combating the Drug Crisis Transcends Politics

Washington, DC – Following the release of alarming new drug overdose data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Congressman John Joyce, M.D. (PA-13) urged Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to prioritize the needs of Pennsylvanians in recovery as his administration continues its COVID-19 mitigation policies and to make addiction resources available and accessible during the pandemic.

“The drug crisis has taken a tangible toll in every community in our Commonwealth. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent aggressive mitigation efforts have only exacerbated this scourge,” wrote Dr. Joyce. “As the only doctor serving in Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation, I urge you to consider the ramifications of these decisions for Pennsylvanians struggling with substance abuse and addiction, especially those in recovery.”

In his letter, Dr. Joyce outlined his work with White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Jim Carroll to work with local leaders on the frontlines of the drug crisis. He urged Governor Wolf to join him and Director Carroll in this shared fight to save lives, protect Pennsylvania communities, and help families recover.

“As leaders, we cannot stand by while addiction tears apart our communities, hurts Pennsylvania families, and hinders our workforce and economic recovery. Most importantly – with lives on the line, we can’t afford inaction. Combating the drug crisis requires a “full-of-government” approach that transcends political divides, and I ask for your partnership in our mission…Together, we can collaborate on solutions that promote education and prevention, equip law enforcement to protect communities, counter stigma as a barrier to seeking help, and support Pennsylvanians in recovery,” wrote Dr. Joyce. 

Read the full letter below:

October 29, 2020

 

The Honorable Tom Wolf
Governor of Pennsylvania
508 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Dear Governor Wolf,

The drug crisis has taken a tangible toll in every community in our Commonwealth. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent aggressive mitigation efforts have only exacerbated this scourge.

As the only doctor serving in Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation, I urge you to consider the ramifications of these decisions for Pennsylvanians struggling with substance abuse and addiction, especially those in recovery.

The staggering rise in drug abuse and addiction during the pandemic is alarming. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing an almost-ten percent increase in fatalities nationwide during the first three months of this year. Sadly, the CDC estimates that our nation will experience more than 75,500 drug-related deaths in 2020, if this trend continues.

 

The CDC’s numbers match up with the personal accounts that I am seeing and hearing about in my travels across Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District.

 

The most recent preliminary data available on the incidence of drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania published earlier this month through March 2020 provisionally predicts drug overdose deaths in 2019 (4,494) as holding essentially stable with the year prior (4,500). In the 12-months ending March 2020, the numbers of drug overdose deaths are predicted to be four percent higher than they were at this time a year prior.

Recently, I brought White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Jim Carroll to Pennsylvania to have honest discussions with the law enforcement officers, health care workers, educators, and community leaders on the frontline of our Commonwealth’s fight against the drug crisis. In both Westmoreland and Somerset Counties, we heard tragic accounts of rising overdose deaths and families struggling to access the resources they need in these uncertain times.


As leaders, we cannot stand by while addiction tears apart our communities, hurts Pennsylvania families, and hinders our workforce and economic recovery. Most importantly – with lives on the line, we can’t afford inaction.

Combating the drug crisis requires a “full-of-government” approach that transcends political divides, and I ask for your partnership in our mission. Director Carroll, who was confirmed to his post unanimously by the U.S. Senate, and his ONDCP team are incredible partners in this fight. Together, we can collaborate on solutions that promote education and prevention, equip law enforcement to protect communities, counter stigma as a barrier to seeking help, and support Pennsylvanians in recovery.

In addition to saving lives, combating the drug crisis and ensuring that those in recovery can stay in recovery will yield economic, social, and health benefits for our Commonwealth.

As you consider your Administration’s COVID-19 mitigation tactics, I urge you to prioritize a wholistic approach to safeguarding Pennsylvanians’ health and wellbeing. Even with the increased use of telemedicine and other virtual options, many people – especially those in recovery – are counting on access to in-person resources and care. For the sake of these Pennsylvanians and their loved ones, I ask that you prioritize making these available and accessible. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter. As all levels of government continue to combat the public health and economic ramifications of coronavirus, I look forward to working with you to protect the people of Pennsylvania. Please do not hesitate to contact my office at (814) 656-6081 with any questions.

 

Sincerely,

John Joyce, M.D.
Member of Congress

The full text of the letter also is available here.

 

###

image description

Abbottstown Office

282 West King St., Abbottstown, PA 17301
Phone: (717) 357-6320

Altoona Office

5414 6th Avenue, Altoona, PA 16602
Phone: (814) 656-6081

Chambersburg Office

100 Lincoln Way East, Suite B, Chambersburg, PA 17201
Phone: (717) 753-6344

Somerset Office

451 Stoystown Road, Suite 102, Somerset, PA 15501
Phone: (814) 485-6020

Washington, DC Office

1221 Longworth HOB, Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2431