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Proper referral is critical for Oliver outreach

I read the article about the Oliver neighborhood with great hope and jubilation ("Blitz of help set in Oliver," March 13).

I applaud Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and her team for their efforts in trying to resuscitate this community by using a holistic approach. I particularly like the integration of law enforcement and drug treatment but with some words of caution.

National statistics tell us there is very high prevalence of co-occurring substance use and mental disorders specifically among minorities. Therefore, it would behoove law enforcement to refer the individuals who they think are drug users to treatment providers who are co-occurring capable, especially since 80 percent of the time these individuals will have both disorders along with other health disparities. Co-occurring capability means that the service provider meets specific standards and can provide integrated mental health, substance use and primary care services under one roof, along with access to peer support specialists. If not, parallel or fragmented treatment will lessen their chances of gaining a higher level of wellness and a richer recovery.

Additionally, collecting and analyzing data to measure success will be a key component in directing further replication of the model. More importantly, if they're not counted then they don't count,

Patricia Bayly Miedusiewski, Monkon

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