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Baltimore doesn't need another heroin task force

Baltimore City does not need another task force to address the current heroin epidemic affecting the city; it needs more affordable residential treatment ("Mayor appoints task force to study heroin, substance abuse," Oct. 14).

The mayor, local county executives and the governor need to work together and turn the state's empty and closed psychiatric hospitals into affordable, long term residential treatment centers for all the addicts who cannot find help. I know this will work because I did this in Baltimore County by opening several treatment programs on the grounds of Rosewood State Hospital. This will get the addicts off the street and away from their drug environment, thus reducing crime, street violence and the spreading of HIV and Hepatitis C, which is often associated with drug addiction. At the same time we could provide addicts with good quality treatment, job training services, GED classes and family support programs for the thousands of addicts who need help. This can be done by a public/private partnership, thus costing the tax payers much less than we currently pay to put addicts in prison.

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If we say we are not going to arrest our way out of this problem and treat addiction as a health issue, than we need to provide as many treatment beds as we provided prison cells for those we used to incarcerate.

Every time politicians can't solve a problem, they create a task force. This gets them cheap publicity, takes the heat off for several months, and they end up with a fancy report that sits on the shelf for years. Baltimore City can't afford to wait that long.

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Mike Gimbel, Timonium

The writer is the former Baltimore County Drug Czar and a recovering heroin addict.

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