The book Lifelines by Leana Wen, MD—a public health expert, emergency physician, and the former Baltimore City health commissioner—dedicates two whole chapters to addiction. In Wen’s experience as health commissioner in Baltimore, where TruHealing has centers and the Amatus Health headquarters is located, “addiction is tied into every other issue in the city.”
Wen discusses the stigma around addiction, and even addiction treatment. When trying to establish MAT clinics or treatment centers close to where people lived so they didn’t have to take multiple buses to access treatment, neighbors didn’t want treatment facilities near them. This attitude was so prevalent that it got a nickname: NIMBY (“not in my backyard”).
However, not only do medical experts like Wen agree that MAT is effective in treating addiction—those clinics help the community. As Wen says in the book, “It’s also true that numerous studies have shown that evidence-based addiction treatment actually saves the community money and reduces the crime rate. A study done in Baltimore found that neighborhoods near methadone clinics were no more associated with crime than convenience stores. (By contrast, the radius around liquor stores had a 30 to 40 percent higher incidence of crime).”
Wen writes about the many layers contributing to addiction in Baltimore and around the country, and the importance of accessible, effective treatment. She decided to begin her work on addiction by increasing access to Naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses. The point was to save lives while she and her team worked on the larger issues that both led to addiction and helped treat it.
“I thought that Naloxone was the least controversial and most expeditious way to get people to reconsider their notions of addiction,” she said, “and to start seeing it as a public health issue that we all had to be a part of solving—instead of a crime, a moral failing, or a community nuisance that’s someone else’s problem.”
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offer high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. We offer MAT (Suboxone and Vivitrol) to help gradually free you from substances. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.