An independent report on useful philanthropy points to the work of local groups


Pittsburgh, PA (November 19, 2015) – The Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions (IRETA) and Prevention Point Pittsburgh (PPP), two Pittsburgh nonprofits, have been identified as groups making high-impact headway against addiction and related harms by an independent organization specializing in effective philanthropy. The report, “Lifting the Burden of Addiction: Philanthropic opportunities to address substance use disorders in the United States,” was released in 2015 by the Center for High Impact Philanthropy (CHIP). A collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice and alumni of the Wharton School, CHIP provides independent guidance, education, and other tools to help donors to make effective philanthropic decisions.

Addiction has a powerful impact on public health. One in 12 Americans has a diagnosable substance use disorder. Deaths from drug overdose now surpass traffic fatalities. Although the social and economic consequences of addiction are huge, the report points to a variety of well-researched interventions that can save lives, reduce suffering, and better connect people to high-quality treatment.

IRETA’s work in the area of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) was featured in the guide. Endorsed by many leading health and policy organizations, SBIRT is not a drug test; it is a streamlined process for determining through conversation whether a person’s substance use is risky and providing assistance for behavior change. Because risky substance use so often goes unchecked until full-blown substance use disorders emerge, the report recommends more widespread use of SBIRT.

“SBIRT is an evidence-based response to a problem that tends to seem big and unmanageable,” said Peter Luongo, PhD, IRETA Executive Director. “Every day, I read about overdose deaths or alcohol-related violence in the paper and it seems like there’s no shortage of problems but not many solutions. However, we know that SBIRT can reduce substance use and some of the health problems associated with it. It’s not glamorous; it’s basic public health.”

PPP was featured in the report as a program that has an immediate impact on rates of fatal overdose and disease transmission among individuals who use drugs. As Western Pennsylvania’s only legal syringe access program, PPP’s focus is to work directly with people who use opiates and other drugs to provide them with training on recognizing overdose and reducing risk, in addition to distributing the overdose antidote naloxone free of charge to anyone likely to witness an overdose. Since 2005, PPP has given free naloxone to over 1700 individuals and received reports of more than 1300 successful overdose reversals.

“Prevention Point Pittsburgh has provided harm reduction services in the region for two decades, but our work has become even more urgent considering increasing rates of opiate use, overdose deaths, and Hepatitis C diagnoses in recent years,” said Aaron Arnold, PPP Director of Operations.  “We hope to scale up our impact as policy makers recognize the value of our approach and remove barriers to providing people who are currently using drugs with compassionate and innovative services that keep them alive and healthy.”

The CHIP report encourages funders to work with effective organizations like PPP and IRETA to produce measurable improvements to addiction and related harms.

“There are many tools available that can help substance users,” said Cecily Wallman-Stokes, lead author of the report. “Using philanthropic funds to expand access to the full range of therapies could make an enormous difference, now.”

For more information or to read the full report, please visit:


IRETA is an independent nonprofit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that helps people respond effectively to substance use and related problems. IRETA provides research-based education, evaluation, and guidance to individuals and organizations affected by substance use.

About Prevention Point Pittsburgh
Founded in 1995, Prevention Point Pittsburgh is dedicated to reducing the harms associated with drug use including the prevention of infectious disease transmission and overdose fatalities among injection drug users. PPP is the sole provider of legal syringe access services and the largest provider of community-based overdose prevention and free naloxone distribution services in Western PA. Other services include: health and risk reduction counseling, provision of safer sex and injection works materials, case management, wound care, medical waste disposal, and HIV/Hepatitis C/gonorrhea and chlamydia testing. These low-threshold services address the complex needs of individuals who use drugs in a safe, non-judgmental environment that promotes education and empowerment.

Contact: Holly Hagle, PhD, Director of the National SBIRT Addiction Technology Transfer Center, IRETA
Phone: 412-258-8564

Contact: Alice Bell, Overdose Prevention Coordinator, Prevention Point Pittsburgh
Phone: 412 247 3404