On Tuesday, the Congressional House Oversight Committee held a Field Hearing at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I was invited to testify on Baltimore City’s work in combatting the opioid epidemic. Other witnesses included Governor Chris Christie (Chair of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis) and ONDCP Acting Director Richard Baum. Mayor Pugh and Governor Hogan gave remarks as well (the link to the full event is here).
Baltimore has done a lot with limited resources. In my testimony, I discussed Baltimore’s aggressive, three-pillar approach to combatting this epidemic: Save lives with naloxone, expand access to on-demand addiction treatment, and reduce stigma and prevent addiction. I also addressed four things the President’s Commission should have included in their recommendations: Substantial, additional federal funding; health insurance expansion; guaranteed access to treatment for addition; and evidence-based harm reduction practices, including needle exchange programs. Treating addiction as a crime is unscientific, inhumane, and ineffective. In order to save lives, we must also address the stigma surrounding addiction.
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