Pubdate: Mon, 28 Dec 2015
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2015 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Don Mathis


Thank you for your front-page article on how the presidential 
candidates from both major parties are seriously addressing the 
nationwide epidemic of heroin and opioid addiction ("N.H. heroin 
crisis puts issue into presidential campaigns," Dec 22). Maryland is 
not alone in seeing a dramatic increase in drug overdose deaths and 
hospital emergency room patients.

Our immediate challenge as a state is to support and work for the 
policy recommendations in Gov. Larry Hogan's task force report, which 
he released earlier this month. A key strategy for effectively 
implementing his recommendations is to make sure that all state 
agencies, especially the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, are 
working together with the medical, treatment, prevention, 
faith-based, nonprofit human service providers and the business 
communities to make sure any new programs and regulations make sense. 
This means these new initiatives would be evidence-based models for 
helping people and would be cost-effective.

While accounts of how presidential candidates plan to target heroin 
and addiction are significant, what seemed most poignant to me was 
the story of Zach. Addicted to heroin and having been through more 
than one treatment center, Zach came from a well-educated, 
above-average-income family. Zach's father is a physician and state 
medical director; his mother is an emergency room nurse. Yet Zach got 
caught in the insidious web of addiction. The lesson here is that 
heroin does not discriminate on the basis of income, race, education 
level, urban/rural/ suburban, religious background or other 
demographic. We all need to be aware that the disease of addiction 
can infect any of us.

Don Mathis, Havre de Grace The writer is director of alumni services 
for Father Martin's Ashley.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom