Gary Tennis Pennsylvania’s first Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs from 2012 to 2017

Newsmaker Interviews
Thursday, January 11th

Gary Tennis is an American politician who was Pennsylvania’s first Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs from 2012 to 2017. He talks with WILK's Sue Henry about Gov. Tom Wolf  declaring Pennsylvania's opioid addiction epidemic a public health emergency.


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Gary tennis is joining us and W I'll can them. Really happy for that Gary how are you. I'm doing well 200 true. Yes. Our hero I'm doing great Simon senior in a while Allen nonetheless time I did see had. A position with the state of Pennsylvania you're the first secretary of the Pennsylvania department of drug now called programs. And it I thought when I saw you speak. In. 2016. That you're ahead of the curve at the timer on what was going on with this oh good problem unfortunately. Yesterday. We heard Doug the governor talk about just how serious it is in our states talk about this issue. From your perspective and then why believe that pennsylvanians. Have this proclivity for Pope Hewitt addiction. Well I think it's if I think all. Human beings are vulnerable to addiction Alcatel has been particularly for controlling. We. I don't usually are vulnerable could be troll you're a Democrat fifty the first. But actually epidemic that we haven't eaten some focus folks we remember. When that the Democrat. But I hit the nation after the Vietnam War. See the epidemic quit cocaine and crack cocaine in her new book methamphetamine and you. Only and the crew the United States surgeon general. Without recruitment infrastructure truly only a drop from about 50%. Okay actually eat all we have. It really naturally. We just have never. Really fully engaged on this problem. Or even prevention barrier for the treatment are inherently distrustful of particularly epidemic is the worst in history in the reboot before and we all know what struck me fine. An extraordinary who have bring up open or prescribe the cornerstone of the car behind you and just kept going up and open up. I'm sure that they're there Griffin of and effective. Marketing by the Joker manufacturers started to convince. Doctors that would play. Then. Of course the article in the local awards for. The tactics of painted. And we had a quadruple your local push cart we really you look at the blue. And escalating crisis since the building up over the past and you're so now little gaps between 5000 and you're going to overdose you can. It will likely go pick them into effect you're gonna go up again and 2017. The truly proven that. There's so so I don't feel that it's been a little going on too long but there's also a couple of a perfect storm. Kind of situation that we have hidden because. Many of the things that we have been doing. To try to push back on this over prescribing of openly in the corporate corruption no crew are true that there but it. The coast of America. On improvement and they all they need to happen. But they've also led to the short term exclusion overdoses. I'll without a prescription monitoring program which are really outstanding programs that are now since 249 out of fifty states. Doctors concede that somebody's going from doctor doctor doctor to get moral or it's because of an addiction the real I mean. We didn't take back box program with the department to collect hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds of prescription drug costs. And we did that with the department and we've got a department helped him as well we've been prescribing guidelines to help. The doctors toward others. Late in the dressing and so we really did ramp we have been Grand Prix down. On the prescribing a little reports spoke to Lou we have fallen down and we don't have the treatment infrastructure required. And don't have the invention mechanism so that when somebody gets cut off so go enjoy it's we're getting them to treatment. When they can't get the treatment. They go to the street because if somebody took a typical it's no longer in the realm of choice could it truly aren't terrible cool coal. And then they're not going to the street and right now the street crooks are the most interest that it couldn't. And history of America there laced with them with core problem with super super Bindra strong. And so people who live in the crush of people would've been cut also Merrill cruel it's going to do the street and we don't have. On what we don't have an open with other mechanisms. And quite clearly trying to doctors how to do interventions. And even if they get an agreement consent to treatment. That's quite as powerful. Because we don't have and problems. It's it's a lot of information at once but I careless and record and movie. Maybe that the point where we really do need to start here is that before you came on the show I talked about January 11 which is today being the the anniversary in 1964 of the release of the surgeon general's report in the United States that smoking. Was indeed dangerous the perception of that smoking has changed so much over the year. Years and it seems to me. That the wait two to do that is to get kids not to pick up cigarettes in the first place. How can be used as the equivalency. For now because we know that the trip and get into the treatment but let's talk about trying to stop this from happening in the first place. Absolutely no talking about prevention and prevention more from bad it is and how important is he most cost effective. We're pushing back on that so we actually have a long until I have yet in my group the national financial model rhetorical launch of humble law. The Pennsylvania it is very close to that requires. What's called eight and anti drug education or a the twelve and I drug education and every school. And it's not just about pitching it's about the dangers of drugs could also. Up about. Open more resiliency. And more sense of self determination and markets that they don't own pick and have enough sense. About them know that they have good friends are pressuring the car company. They won't do. We have we have provincial programs that are shown to reduce. Drug and alcohol abuse I think that 70%. We could be put in our school. All. And if we get that we would not only are kind of what we were not only have little or. I'm gonna get vaccinated but it's not exactly like the type of acclamation against. Getting the drug abuse or alcohol abuse. We look at that are kind of more resilient more so determined to kind of broke. Emotionally. The other. Kids growing up in the adult and I'll consider consider a little bit more so determined that not subject of the kind of pressure. That we could do little on the line you're talking about what you're trying to cut right through. We could do it was the we have a law pursued different and programs. I'll. These are stupid and programs and our program free trade futures. Our counselors have identified consider look like they're rip when he beat. Mom or dad got locked pollute their their production in the fairway or special going on the jets. You can come into being with them. And get into the hole pretty good and also that could be. You kind of hoped the deal of the drug and alcohol issue. And my good man how could chew or some other additional. All of them at all so the law in Pennsylvania. And they can bet also. The glory in large part if not we implement. Hope there are some really well proven. Prevention. Program. Along the lines you're talking about that would help brush you blasted. Long term impact on the problem. Are you thinking that did this prevention program they say is is very successful could that be rolled so in and at crime watch setting nor. Some other place where if parents were concerned enough and they didn't see it in their schools is their way for them to. Access it now. I think that would require far removed my control clock but the market market or in school now are you organizing parents and going to this school superintendents and principals and things we have got to get these Qaeda twelve. Program. We've got alcohol programs going in our schools and other top. Just couldn't follow up because I want my commitment BLP and we have an epidemic going on I want everything possible. Too cold from. My child and all the children in the school and make sure that they get through this epidemic and they survive it. A whip where is that what the program called a work that we see hitter or how do we. Well there are a lot of programs the 100 bill would want to connect if you want to trap door bumper all the we actually had an all of this and a different kind of I want chocolate. It's little frustrating to watch some white. Actually have an all or look at the time for the department worked with the Pennsylvania commission on crime could see that was and also Oklahoma. Connecticut vs Colorado for two paper and people are typical spot in my golf strong and again there are other programs should strong. All of the lights schools strong program and this was one and 67 dramatically urged and it's proven to reduce drug and alcohol abuse and 67 to care. It was all appropriate. Any school in Pennsylvania that would take it and we think. The secretary of education infrastructure under the Corbett administration secretary of education and our defense. Of course communication at all pick up 500 scored a structural 500 school district superintendent thank. This inform all them hopefully. We strongly suggest you take it. And we got Lou we have picked the school districts out of 500 and the political climate around this would ultimately truly. On golden. Assistant and they move forward tactical differences in the court. Mean what great for the substitute teacher so community in certain extent while they train teachers. Smoke on the road you know I think that there is. Has been a tendency in a kind of leave these local epidemic is really pretty account but there's been a hundred feet. Could be in denial about this problem tomorrow characterize that could be good protection not only get their personal level by the societal level. Until things got so bad you can't go about it anymore so I think those schools superintendent wanna. Mob the admit that they have a drug and alcohol a potential drug and alcohol to a school districts. But it's time to get over that and get real. We have our number one priority keep our kids healthy thing from a lot. Exactly and I think that any superintendent that it would be able to accept the premise that they would like to go with the prevention program that. I guess we're not school superintendents let's talk about. I'm rehabilitation. And as somebody's who's sent in a message just carried that Tim. Relapse just seem series such a horrible problem. In that rehab there's so. How can maps how can that change because we know it's so expensive that we know insurance companies. Literally never won a pain to go the distance on this one and that they balk at it all the time themselves so how do we make this. Happened so that it does have. Efficacy. Well there's several resources toward you you really look forward to insurance company is not going the distance and I think you will get help with. And I commuted the current Medicaid contacts Susan with Contra without being brought health care. Usually when you see relapse this. Sometimes scored the recovery process or some critical but they do due to a little relapse and a cult related. Successfully actually moved better and sometimes but the boot time if they have to go back a second or third time. I'll illogical and ultimately as well not. Cultural camps are important than just about any other than in college now really you. Have been made a tour. To drug and alcohol but the book that you or your living at the mailman and there's talk about going to do. Somebody who. Who hadn't had a lot. That Dick Lugar held on for example they babble on troop reduction. Turkey is very very clear. It would make going to rehab they're going to need a minimum of three months we have. Followed by the full continuum of care are intent couldn't stepping down gradually to about Croatian outpatient. I'm actually put put some individuals like they've lost their jobs and loss of family at all. Six months it is really more ideal but that won't expensive. But I think about the alternative. The alternative if somebody comes home. Column on the whole exercise in my contract so apparently he's been caught. What they do 60000 dollars to create. On the criminals are also part their superior who really formal we gonna criminal sort of fault could actually we have. Fifty to 70% of the people in power. Crude. Oil cooler with untreated or under treated correction somewhere ten will depend 40000 year. I had known commodity cycle in and out of jail so. It may seem like there's some initial investment because they're actually. There's a very well researched and you have to recharged and it has to do treatment like and more about you actually. Taxpayer or seven dollar for every dollar invested treatment. Different holed it from if you can only be anything on the stock market like. Gary it's so great to talk to again and I. I hope to talk to you in the future annually just kind of fun tossed around some ideas today but I think they're good ones. Before you go is their place in the country. Where what you say is accept it where people will pave reward achievement is paid for and it is bearing fruit if you well. But he's going to be surprised that the but the laws that ensure that all countries actually you're in control my hat goes. And the mentally and all of our law. Says that go to insurance company can't manage once the doctors signed the order so what. Level of treatment duke and what duration that that the insurance company is prohibited by look at the Pennsylvania based insurance policy. We enjoy the company is prohibited by law from manager rip them out of Georgia. All calling americorps and they're like. Compromise solution that I was New York. Most of the state can't have gone. Libya until I nuclear attack on their. But you that what we can do the bigger and we can do right now of course that it actually is great you can of course now or is that according we have a new law. Federal law that says we've got an alcoholic it could go to the people who. I'll. And it will get that we got Betancourt to cost you your story really good job at north York state attorney general argument. But they've got that important on the country I think you would see dramatic a dramatic impact. In the help and critical component. Dairy tennis is the president and CEO of the national alliance for a model state drug laws. Let's attach in the future if we can about medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is that a possibility. Are sure in the future we'll be back with you but to Gary I appreciate seeing your your knowledge and and taking time to be with us thanks so much. My pleasure thank you and thank you for putting attention on future absolutely.