Pubdate: Sat, 05 Apr 2014
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2014 Mike Gimbel
Author: Mike Gimbel


The Maryland Legislature is forgetting one key element in their
efforts to fight drug abuse in the state: increased treatment.

During the current General Assembly session, legislators introduced
and debated bills on legalizing marijuana, decriminalizing marijuana,
medical use of marijuana, giving clean needles to addicts, giving the
anti-overdose medicine Narcan to addicts as well as the traditional
bills on taxing tobacco and increasing penalties on drunk drivers. The
rationalization for many of these bills was that we need to treat the
drug problem as a medical issue, not a criminal one.

Meanwhile there was not one bill introduced to increase the
availability of drug and alcohol treatment to the citizens of
Maryland. If we all agree that we are not going to arrest our way out
of this drug problem and we need to treat addiction as a medical
problem, than where in the world are we supposed to send people
seeking help in Maryland?

Believe me, if you or someone you care about has a problem with drugs
or alcohol, it is very difficult to find long-term, affordable
treatment in Maryland. I get numerous calls each week from people
seeking help who can't find it in Maryland. Even when a new program
opens in Maryland, no one seems to care. Two weeks ago, a new private
program opened in Towson, called the Maryland Addiction Recovery
Center, and they had an open house featuring the White House Deputy
Drug Czar David Meneta. All the media was invited so the public would
know about this new program, and only WBAL-TV sent a news crew.

I realize that drug and alcohol treatment is not as sexy to the public
or the media as legalizing marijuana, but I guarantee its the most
important piece of the puzzle to solve our state's and nation's drug
and alcohol problem. Treatment does work, but not if you can't find
it. Just ask any parent or spouse of an addict.

Mike Gimbel, Timonium

The writer is a recovering addict and former Baltimore County Drug
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