Opioid addiction and drug abuse are serious issues in the state of Maryland, as they are around the country. In Baltimore City, for example, there are an estimated 19,000 people who inject drugs, with at least 481 fatal overdoses reported from January 2016 until September 2016. This represents a 65% increase for the same time period back in 2015. Heroin use in Maryland has tripled in the last five years and has claimed more than 748 deaths total in 2015.
Drug-free programs are not seeming to have a major impact. Treatment has had varied results, and many do not even get to the point of being diagnosed and treated for their addictions. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2014 estimated that there were more than 123,000 people in Maryland who satisfied the criteria to establish that these people had a drug addiction, but only 12% actually received treatment. Between 2013 and 2014, there was an increase of more than 41% in the number of heroin related emergency visits in the state. The statistics show the extent to which the threat of drug and opioid addiction in the United States is impacting so many families.
The Safe-Drug Consumption (SDC) Site Bill
In a recent bill introduced into the Maryland legislature, there was a push to tackle drug abuse and opioid addiction through a controversial plan: the foundation and expansion of an overdose-prevention and safer drug-consumption program that would permit addicts to use lethal amounts of drugs in safe sites. These narcotics would be provided by trained medical professionals and staff using clean instruments. This program reflects on the success that the Baltimore needle exchange had in the last 20 years.
SDC Sites Around the Globe and Their Impact
Maryland would not be the first state to introduce these safe-drug consumption (SDC) sites as a source of treatment. Many countries around the world have already established SDC with an estimated 97 safe spaces in roughly 66 cities in 11 countries. These SDC sites have offered an opportunity for researchers to examine the success rates of these programs in not only lowering drug overdoses, but also stemming the spread of diseases like HIV, hepatitis B and C, and limiting the amount of money spent by cities on emergency medical services.
Opposition and Advocacy for the Program
There are opponents to the bill who believe that these programs are akin to legal drug-dealing, where it proves counter to the intent of the program: encouraging drug use rather than discouraging it. For many advocates of the bill, the major theme for them is not enabling drug abuse, but providing a safe atmosphere for those who are going to do drugs, regardless of the obstacles that may be posed, and limiting the public safety impacts of their drug abuse and addiction. The Baltimore needle exchange worked in the same way, where the provision of clean needles did not increase drug use, but decreased the effect that syringe-transmitted diseases were having on poverty-laden communities in Baltimore. Additionally, this would provide an opportunity to directly deal with substance abuse issues of those who are using who come to the site, rather than those who are brought to hospitals as a result of an overdose. It is a focused intervention.
The Role of the Hospital: As a Site for the SDC and Substance Abuse Source
The main tenet of the bill is to increase therole of the hospital in identifying patients and screening those who are in need of substance use treatments and interventions. Where a hospital is unable to detect a person who abuses drugs, or even is the source of the drugs that a person may become addicted to, the program’s effectiveness is stemmed.
Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You
Addiction and substance abuse can start with a medical professional’s inability to treat pain management without prescribing highly addictive drugs. If you have been injured as a result of your substance abuse problem stemming from prescription drugs given to you by a medical professional, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Please call the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a confidential consultation.