Pubdate: Wed, 17 Dec 2014
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2014 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Bernadette Solounias


Thank you for your strong, compelling editorial on heroin and drug 
addiction and on Gov.-elect Larry Hogan's pledge to focus on 
solutions to this statewide epidemic ("Overdose emergency," Dec.11). 
I appreciate the recognition given to Maryland-based treatment 
facilities such as Father Martin's Ashley and the Pain Recovery 
Program at Ashley. For more than 32 years, from our campus in Havre 
de Grace, we've been providing treatment solutions that improve lives 
and restore hope.

I support greater access to treatment programs and a comprehensive 
public information campaign that reaches the most vulnerable of 
audiences. My years as a practicing and supervising physician have 
taught me that an essential first step for public policy and public 
awareness strategies is to understand that addiction is a matter of 
brain science and chemically driven cravings. Too many people ascribe 
addiction to a moral failing and/or character weakness. Addiction, in 
fact, is a disease of the brain.

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse in 
Bethesda, has produced rigorous research and evaluation findings that 
validate addiction as more than a matter of a person's willpower. 
Another finding, which should offer hope to the Hogan administration, 
is that comprehensive treatment for addiction to heroin and other 
opiates can and does work.

It's important to also recognize that many heroin addicts got to 
their addiction through prescription pain medications. As noted in 
the editorial, opiate use continues to increase throughout the state. 
Asking physicians to take a course on appropriate opiate prescribing 
practices is a noble gesture. However, more needs to be done to 
inform patients and professionals about the misuse of prescription 
pain medications for chronic pain. Treatment solutions that provide 
recovery, not pain management, are critical for the 21st-century 
patient who came to their drug dependence through prescribed pain medications.

Addiction has grown to epidemic proportions in Maryland. I commend 
The Sun for its strong editorial and our new governor for his pledge 
to look for sufficient resources to help tens of thousands of our 
state's people and their families. I and the other addiction 
professionals at our treatment center welcome being a part of the solution.

Dr. Bernadette Solounias, Havre de Grace The writer is senior vice 
president of treatment services and medical director at Father Martin's Ashley.
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