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Drug courts have role in curbing opioid abuse

The city health department and the Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore, which oversees drug treatment in the city, are breaking ground on their crisis stabilization center. (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun video)

Thank you for Joseph Avery's important commentary on the role of public defenders in reversing the opioid and substance use disorder epidemic ("Supporting public defenders also supports substance use treatment," March 27). Mr. Avery shows how public defenders specifically and law enforcement in general are essential in helping people in the criminal justice system attain sobriety and rebuild their lives and families.

Please add Harford County to the list with Frederick and Washington counties as jurisdictions that are operating effective Drug Treatment Courts. Not only are Harford County's public defenders knowledgeable about the disease of substance use disorder, so also are our four drug court judges, our state's attorney and his staff, our probation and parole officers, our county executive and his administration, the health department and other public officials.

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It's vitally important, as Mr. Avery recommends, that all parents, community and business leaders, faith leaders, school officials, health care providers and other concerned people understand how DTCs, prevention programs and treatment providers use evidence-based, tried-and-tested strategies to reduce recidivism, restore healthy families, turn tax-drainers into taxpayers and make our communities safer.

I work in Harford County's drug courts. Every week, I see how public defenders, judges, state's attorneys and other law enforcement officials balance public safety protections with evidence-based drug treatment and recovery solutions.

Don Mathis, Havre de Grace

The writer is president of Addiction Connections Resource in Fallston and a board member of Doctors for America.

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