With all of the exposure that drug abuse has gotten in recent years, it still seems as if the fight against addiction will continue to be an uphill battle. It has become such a widespread problem, in fact, that some states are worried they don’t have enough funding to provide the treatment that addicts need.
According to The Washington Post, Maryland health centers are reluctant to screen more patients for substance abuse disorders in accordance with the recent state intervention program. They’re concerned that there are not even enough treatment beds available to accommodate the overwhelming number of addicts.
Bonnie Campbell, who heads Maryland’s Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment program, said, “They’re concerned they’ll identify patients who have substance-use problems and not be able to refer them to treatment.”
Governor Larry Hogan has made the fight against heroin addiction a top priority of his administration after he lost his cousin to a heroin overdose. Overall, more than 578 Maryland residents died of heroin overdoses just last year, an increase of 25 percent compared to the previous year.
Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake also took initiative by launching a heroin task force in July. The city trained more than 4,000 people to use Naloxene, a pharmaceutical that can reverse the effects of overdoses and prevent death.
In the city another effort in the battle against addiction comes in the form of the new leadership of the Baltimore Behavioral Health Authority. The Baltimore Sun reports that Kathy Wetcoat, a veteran of nonprofit healthcare services, was tapped to head the authority.
Behavior Health Systems was created in 2013 from a merger of two organizations that separately specialized in mental health and substance abuse.
Part of what makes caring for all of these addicts so much more intensive and expensive is the large number of addicts who also suffer from mental illness. In fact, those with substance abuse problems are three times more likely to have a mental disorder, amounting up to 15 % of addicts who have co-occurring mental problems.
Kathleen’s group now oversees a $75 million budget that mainly goes to behavioral health disorders.
“Under her leadership, we look forward to making significant strides in behavioral health in Baltimore,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake in a statement.
Along with providing behavioral health services to substance abusers, Kathleen’s group also expanded healthcare to pregnant and postpartum women, immigrants, foster care children, and even the homeless.