For television crime drama fans, The Wire, based in Baltimore, is often considered top-notch. The show was written by David Simon, a former police reporter in Baltimore. In view of the longstanding drug problem on the streets of Baltimore, it is no surprise that Simon chose to focus the first season of The Wire on the theme of law enforcement and the illegal drug trade. Drug abuse in Baltimore is a serious problem in real life. The show, or another show, could have just as easily amassed 60 episodes on different angles on the drug epidemic in Baltimore. While there wasn’t a show about the numerous government, private, and nonprofit workers who help address drug abuse in Baltimore every day, this article speaks to the availability of their help for those in need of drug recovery services.

During the 2012 reporting period, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) collected data on the prevalence of substance abuse in Baltimore. According to NIDA, the most common drugs of abuse in the city were cocaine, marijuana, and heroin.

At present, the US is experiencing a resurgence in rates of heroin abuse, and Baltimore is one of the most affected cities. As ABC News reports, as of 2016, Baltimore is considered to be the heroin capital of the United States. Per the US Drug Enforcement Agency, Baltimore is experiencing the highest per capita rate of heroin abuse in the US. There are approximately 645,000 residents of Baltimore and the local Department of Health has concluded that there are approximately 60,000 people addicted to drugs, with about 48,000 addicted to heroin. A federal report from 2016 puts the number of people in Baltimore addicted to heroin at 60,000.

It is critical to note that the prevalence of abuse of one drug should never overshadow or serve to downplay the threat presented by all drug abuse. Much of the attention in the media and among public officials is on the heroin and prescription opioid crisis. This attention owes in part to the fact that there has been a nationwide rise in overdoses related to these drugs. Although it is helpful to recognize the prevalence of abuse of opiates and opioids, all substance abuse requires attention and competent care.

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Consideration of treatment admissions in Baltimore reflects that although some drugs do not occupy the media spotlight, they are negatively affecting the populous. The good news, however, is that treatment admissions are on the rise in Baltimore. Even if this statistic owes to a general increase in the number of individuals abusing drugs, the number of rehab seekers is trending in a helpful direction.

Drug Treatment Admissions in Baltimore

NIDA made several additional findings pertinent to drug treatment in Baltimore, including but not limited to the following:

  • In 2012, there were 55,499 admissions to publicly funded rehab programs, which was up from 2011.
  • When people sought treatment at a publicly funded rehab center in Baltimore, they frequently needed to recover from heroin, alcohol, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, marijuana, and opiates other than heroin, including prescription opioid pain relievers. Admissions involving these drugs increased from 2011 to 2012.
  • Baltimore admissions represented 53 percent of statewide admissions for heroin treatment and approximately 37 percent of all admissions for cocaine.
  • Most people who sought rehab services for opiates other than heroin, including prescription opioids, did not enter a rehab facility in Baltimore. These drugs represented only 12 percent of all rehab admissions.

The number of people seeking treatment provides some relief from the difficult statistics on drug overdoses in Baltimore. According to NIDA, in 2011, there were 663 drug-involved deaths while in 2012 there were 761, illustrating a 15 percent increase. In 2012, there was an increase in the number of heroin-involved fatalities but a decrease of deaths due to prescription opioids. Looking at Maryland on the whole, Baltimore was the site of 28 percent of all drug overdose deaths. In terms of fatal heroin overdoses in Maryland, one in three occurred in Baltimore.

Getting Help

Research suggests that a top reason people do not get drug treatment is they believe they cannot afford it. However, there is always some level of support from publicly funded drug recovery programs for eligible individuals. The Baltimore County Government provides the public with a list of substance abuse treatment centers for individuals who do not have insurance. The Behavioral System of Maryland Network of Care also provides a listing of local rehab services that offer varying levels of care. A review of the site reveals that there are currently 83 listings. The Behavioral System of Maryland works for the public in the areas of prevention, early intervention, and treatment. Its goal is to provide community support by helping each member to overcome negative life experiences, such as addiction.

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Get Away to Focus on Recovery

For individuals who are uninsured, Healthcare Access Maryland is a one-stop resource for insurance applications. Eligible low-income individuals may be accepted into the state’s Medicaid program. Per the Affordable Care Act, recovery services are an essential health benefit, which means that state Medicaid programs must provide some level of care in the area of recovery services. A Healthcare Access Maryland representative can help match a person to an insurance plan, and discuss premium costs and any available subsidies.

Some individuals or concerned family members may work directly with a Baltimore rehab center, be it public or private. Rehab centers have staff members who can help an incoming client to organize coverage through an existing health insurance provider or possibly help a person apply for health insurance. Most all rehab centers also accept private pay, and some will work with admitted clients or their loved ones on a payment plan or even provide a sliding scale fees agreement.

The point is that there are many options in terms of paying for coverage. Concerns about the cost of rehab should never be a barrier to admission at a facility that can help people reclaim their lives from drug abuse.