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We still need new ways to battle the opioid crisis

In August, The Sun published my letter in which I described the opioid epidemic as one that touches all families regardless of demographics (“Public should be alarmed by murders and overdoses," Aug. 7). Now, a federal jury has convicted drug dealers from "an urban business that relied on middle-class customers from the suburbs” (“Five men found guilty of running a heroin ring protected by a former Baltimore cop," Oct. 31). My August letter called for new ways to battle this crisis. Locking up street dealers serves a purpose, but it will not end the opioid scourge and is nothing new. There will continue to be a demand for the product, so expect new dealers to fill the void. As long as your neighbors and family members continue to be prescribed prescription painkillers like Oxycontin, many will crave and need more. We aren't seriously adding more treatment beds or facilities. We are still treating drug users who began their addiction under the care of their physicians as criminals. We still allow these dangerous drugs to be sold at your local pharmacy while the much safer marijuana is banned. I'm sick of attending funerals for friends. When will this stop? Or does the pharmaceutical industry call the shots?

Robbie Leonard, Timonium

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