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Gregory C. Warren, health care executive who worked in substance abuse treatment, dies

Gregory Charles Warren coordinated Baltimore's drug treatment strategy.
Gregory Charles Warren coordinated Baltimore's drug treatment strategy. (Family photo / HANDOUT)

Gregory Charles Warren, who helped prisoners and disadvantaged people with drug and alcohol treatment, died of a cerebral hemorrhage Feb. 27 at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He was 58.

His brother, Michael Warren, said Mr. Warren collapsed during a virtual meeting Feb. 24 with his business partners at his home in Riderwood and never regained consciousness.

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Born in Indianapolis, he was the son of Charles Warren, an economic development agency official, and his wife, Kathleen Plopper, who worked for environmental agencies.

He was raised in Kensington in Montgomery County and was a 1981 graduate of Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park, a master’s degree in counseling psychology at Bowie State University and a second master’s degree at what is now Loyola University Maryland.

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Mr. Warren played college tennis and ran track in high school.

His brother said Mr. Warren helped build coalitions, open treatment centers, and provide access and services to all who needed them, regardless of income. The work took him inside jails and homeless centers, as well as corporate boardrooms, city halls and state legislatures.

Most recently, he was working to expand treatment in southwest West Virginia. He and his business associates recently purchased an old hotel in the town of Comfort in Boone County to provide residential treatment for addicts.

His business was the Lotus Health Care Group.

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Mr. Warren also expanded access to health care in the Maryland prison system and across the city of Baltimore, and directed programs through Health Care for the Homeless, Gaudenzia Inc., Glass Health Systems and Lotus Recovery Centers.

“I was one of his admirers,” said Robert C. Embry Jr., Abell Foundation president. “I thought highly of Greg. He was competent, motivated and an intelligent gentleman.”

According to a family biography, from 2008 to 2013, Mr. Warren was president and CEO of Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems Inc., the agency that coordinated the city’s drug treatment strategy. He worked in more than 60 treatment programs that served more than 12,000 people each year.

“Greg has had a positive impact on literally tens of thousands of people with opioid use disorder in Maryland. I can think of no one in the past three decades who has worked so well across the entire spectrum of the substance abuse treatment system,“ said Dr. Robert P. Schwartz, medical director of the Friends Research Institute on Park Avenue.

“In that work, he directly touched people’s lives, helped motivate them to succeed, and accompanied them on their journey to recovery. Greg was not one to be complacent. He advanced to direct a major drug treatment program in Baltimore City, where he oversaw its more than doubling of the number of patients.”

His colleagues said he helped those with opioid use disorder.

“Through Greg’s leadership at BSAS, we led the way in putting a system of care in place, the Baltimore Buprenorphine Initiative, using medication-assisted treatment that transformed how patients with opioid use disorder were treated and saved countless lives,” said Marla Oros, president of The Mosaic Group.

“We also introduced the evidence-based Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment or SBIRT intervention in health centers, schools and hospital emergency departments, an effort that has now been scaled across the state of Maryland, resulting in the early identification and treatment for thousands of individuals with high-risk substance use,” she said.

His brother said Mr. Warren pioneered a program to administer lifesaving therapies, including methadone, to newly incarcerated addicts who could otherwise suffer deadly withdrawal symptoms. This opioid crisis stabilization system helped reduce the short-term criminal recidivism rate for addicts leaving prison from 68% to 5%, his brother said.

“Greg could not have wrested more out of life — traveling all over to cheer his daughters, dashing around Europe, climbing Mount Washington, rappelling down a skyscraper, kayaking on the ocean,” said his brother, an Atlanta resident. “He and Sallie [his wife] even lived through the eye of a hurricane recently, and were hilarious when they told that story.”

Mr. Warren was an organ donor.

In addition to his wife of 32 years, Sara Benninghoff “Sallie” Warren, a Maryland Institute College of Art executive, and his brother, survivors include another brother, Stephen Warren of Iowa City, Iowa; two daughters, Blair Warren and Landon Warren, both of Boston; his father, Charles Warren; and his stepmother, Elaine Tsubota of Timonium.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a private burial was held Friday at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Owings Mills. A memorial service will be scheduled in the future.

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