Erie County Innovators

Dave Sanner is the Director of the Office of Drug and Alcohol Abuse at the Erie County Department of Human Services. As the Erie County Single County Authority (SCA), here’s how Dave has used PA Stop to enhance his work.

1. Tell us about your organization. What do you do? Who do you serve?

The Erie County Office of Drug and Alcohol Abuse assures that substance use disorder treatment, intervention, and prevention services are available for all Erie County citizens. We also serve as the coordinator of the county’s heroin task force.

We do not provide direct treatment services; we contract with agencies to do treatment, prevention, and intervention. The services we provide here are case management, which consists of screening, assessment, and referrals.

2. How long have you been using PA Stop in your work?

This is going to be our second year. As soon as we heard about PA Stop, we thought it would be a good tool to use to increase awareness locally.

We were so excited about PA Stop because we had been doing advertising before, but nothing to the extent that the PA Stop campaign allowed us to do.

3. Tell us about some of the ways that you have utilized PA Stop to spread information about opioids.

We have conducted one media campaign and we’re setting up for our second. Our first was last year: we did billboards, radio, television, and online advertising. This year, we’re doing all that again, and we’re also adding brochures, and other hard-copy materials to hand out. All of the advertising that we do includes the Erie County Office of D&A logo and our contact information, so it leads people back to us.

I’m no expert in marketing and advertising. We need help with it. We have 12 staff and we’re swamped. But we have to do it, even though we don’t have much training.

When we were making decisions about how to advertise, the folks from PA Stop really sat down and helped us develop a marketing media plan. They told us about the best strategies that work, what type of advertising tends to work well in Erie County, and made a number of recommendations on billboards versus television versus radio versus online advertising.

The PA Stop team also gave us information about other groups and counties across Pennsylvania and what they’re doing with PA Stop, so we got some good ideas there, too.

4. What do you think are the most exciting or successful ways that PA Stop has helped you achieve your mission?

Our number of calls are up about 15% since last year. Whenever we advertise, we get more calls. People comment to us that they saw our ads and then reached out to our office.

It’s helped us see that we need to build advertising into our budget. We want people to reach out to us as early as possible, before the disease of addiction progresses. We want them to know that addiction can happen to anyone. And the PA Stop materials definitely help us spread that message.

5. We are trying to help organizations and Single County Authorities understand how they can use PA Stop in their communities. Do you have any advice or words of wisdom, based on your experience?

I would encourage anybody to reach out to the PA Stop folks and talk to them about your community, however big or small your budget is, just to see what they can do for you. You’re going to get a lot of great ideas. They clearly have resources that catch people’s eyes.

You can always do something, even if it’s small, like handing out materials at trainings or putting them in doctor’s office waiting rooms to increase awareness.

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