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Poverty and drug addiction are two very different problems | READER COMMENTARY

The Baltimore Behavioral Health Inc. private, non-profit clinic in Southwest Baltimore. Drug and mental health treatment at such facilities can take months and cost taxpayers thousands of dollars. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun).
The Baltimore Behavioral Health Inc. private, non-profit clinic in Southwest Baltimore. Drug and mental health treatment at such facilities can take months and cost taxpayers thousands of dollars. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun). (Karl Merton Ferron, The Baltimore Sun)

The commentary, “Want to reduce overdose rates? Treat poverty first” (July 19), by Alexandra S. Wimberly of the University of Maryland School of Social Work and Shawna Murray-Browne, a licensed clinical social worker, is the classic ivory tower view of drug addiction. The authors carefully sidestep the issue of users wanting that euphoric rush and their lack of desire to get cleaned up and get back to working a job. It’s all about not having enough money and racial inequality.

They compare Baltimore to Stockton, California, as if they were similar. Besides being much smaller than Baltimore, the population of Stockton is completely different; white 43%, Asian 21%, Black 11.15%. Stockton has one of the highest crime rates in America, hardly a role model for success of their programs.

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The authors write of additional funding for Black-led service organizations that have a successful track record of reversing opioid addiction and that is a giant step in the best direction possible.

But then they go on to suggest workforce programs for substance abusers and promote decriminalization. These are steps backward, passively encouraging the continuation of the drug culture in Black communities. In Baltimore, we have all seen way too much death and crime resulting from acceptance of opioid addiction and the recent lack of prosecution.

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Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Are people poor because they started using, became addicted, moving on in their drugged state to become unemployable and dysfunctional? Or did they lose their jobs and turn to drugs to momentarily feel better about their situation and accidentally became addicts and just decided to stay that way and continue using?

There has been poverty since the dawn of humankind. The poor we will have with us always. But not all poor people take the path of hard drugs. And not all drug users are poor. Want to reduce overdose rates? Treat drug addiction first.

Georgia Corso, Baltimore

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