Pubdate: Tue, 01 Apr 2014
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2014 The Baltimore Sun Company
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 
antioverdose medicine Narcan to addicts as well as the traditional 
bills on taxing tobacco and increasing penalties on drunken 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, then 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.

I realize that drug and alcohol treatment is not as sexy to the 
public or the media as legalizing marijuana, but I guarantee it's 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 czar.
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