According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are approximately 1,037 facilities that treat addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions in Pennsylvania. These numbers don’t include support options like individual drug counseling and mutual aid groups.

They also don’t reflect the newest player in the substance abuse arena: Philadelphia safe injection sites. That’s because at this stage, funding and legal aspects for this harm-reduction initiative are still being hammered out, but if some city health officials and advocates have their way, Philadelphia safe injection sites could soon be a reality.

If you or a loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol, here are your options for Pennsylvania drug rehab centers, addiction treatment services and harm-reduction opportunities:

Inpatient Alcohol and Drug Rehab

Residential addiction treatment gives you time and space away from triggers to focus on yourself. Pennsylvania has a wide range of facilities, from low-cost options with several people sharing bedrooms and bathrooms, small beds, and no frills, to medium and higher-end inpatient drug rehabs. These high end rehabs will give you more privacy, amenities and therapy options and have a smaller group of clients so you can build a close-knit support system.

Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab

Ideally, outpatient drug or alcohol rehab is a transitional situation for people who’ve completed inpatient addiction treatment and are re-entering everyday life. If you don’t require a higher level of care or can’t attend inpatient drug rehab for other reasons, outpatient addiction treatment could be effective for you. Some Pennsylvania drug rehab programs offer intensive outpatient treatment that meet five days a week for several hours. Others meet less frequently.

Individual Counseling and Support Groups

Individual counseling with a therapist specially trained in addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders paired with support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are typically components of an aftercare plan for people leaving inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment. If you’re unable to attend a Pennsylvania drug rehab right now, this type of support is better than trying to “go it alone” and can be effective if you don’t need more intensive support and therapy.

Detox Centers

Drug and alcohol detox centers offer medical supervision and medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms. Medical staff make you safe and as comfortable as possible during withdrawal from substances. Detox centers are normally associated with an addiction treatment program. Without specialized treatment for addiction following alcohol or drug detox, your chances of relapsing are high. 

Community Health Centers

Some Community Health Centers (CHCs) provide substance abuse treatment for people who have a low income or are uninsured. Treatment is provided on an outpatient basis and may include one-on-one counseling services as well as group therapy.

Not Ready to Get Serious About Recovery?

If you’re not ready to get treatment and you inject drugs, a needle exchange program could help decrease your risk of deadly diseases like HIV/AIDs and hepatitis as well as infections. The proposed Philadelphia safe injection sites could be another option for people who are not yet ready to seek professional addiction help.

Needle Exchange Programs

A harm-reduction strategy, needle exchange programs (NEPs), aka syringe exchange programs (SEPs), allow you to safely dispose of used needles and obtain sterile syringes for free. The hope is to prevent the spread of IV-transmitted disease and infection. Only legal in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, some of these programs offer addiction education and information on recovery resources.

Philadelphia Safe Injection Sites

Safe injection sites, also known as supervised injection sites or medically supervised injection facilities, are another harm-reduction initiative. Philadelphia and San Francisco are currently head-to-head as to which state will be the first U.S. city to house legally sanctioned “fix rooms,” as they’re sometimes referred to on the streets. Cities like Ithaca, Seattle and Baltimore have also set the wheels in motion to open safe injection sites.

Philadelphia safe injection sites would provide:

  • Access to sterile syringes
  • The drug naloxone, which reverses an opioid overdose
  • First aid for infections/wounds from needle use
  • Medical staff to administer naloxone and attend to wounds
  • Referrals to addiction treatment services, social services and medical care
  • A “safe haven” from police

If funding and legalities can be ironed out, Philadelphia safe injection sites would be some of the first of their kind in the U.S. As of now, there are unsanctioned sites in the U.S., but none with the criminal justice system’s blessing. In order to get around hurdles like approvals from the City Council and zoning ordinances, these sites would be privately owned and funded.

Philadelphia safe injection sites don’t come without controversy. Critics argue that these facilities will enable and normalize illicit drug use. They assert that harm-reduction strategies like needle exchanges and injection sites are a mere band aid to a disease and epidemic that leaves thousands in its wake yearly. Abstinence and specialized addiction treatment that addresses underlying issues and teaches a new way of life is the best solution.


Choose a better life. Choose recovery.