Opioid Addiction Treatment Initiatives

Addiction is a medical condition. It is not a mere catchphrase or a slogan. Similar to diabetes or high blood pressure, it is not a matter of choice. Prolonged use of drugs or alcohol can have a significant impact on brain function, leading to changes in mood, behavior, and motivation. These changes may result in severe cravings, mood swings, memory loss, and difficulty making decisions. Nobody chooses to suffer from addiction.

BCHD is devoted to enhancing the availability of addiction treatment, which includes medication, psychosocial support (such as counseling), and comprehensive social services.

Get Help Now
For 24/7 mental health & substance use help, call 988. Helpline services include emergency counseling, referrals to local resources, and mobile response teams who can respond in the community. You can also visit www.988helpline.org to learn more. 

Treatment Providers

Programs and Services:

Healthcare on the SPOT: In partnership with Johns Hopkins University, The SPOT mobile van team provides low threshold treatment for Substance Use Disorder (SUD), prescribing Buprenorphine and ensuring all patients receive the best treatment options for them. All patients are seen, regardless of insurance. The team offers confidential services such as: - STI/HIV testing and treatment - PrEP and PEP for HIV prevention - Hepatitis C testing and treatment - Buprenorphine - Wound care - Case management Call (410) 340-9445 or (410) 241-7240 for van schedule & locations.

Levels of Care for Baltimore City Hospitals Responding to the Opioid Epidemic:

In April 2018, BCHD joined with the City's 11 acute-care hospitals to announce the Levels of Care for Baltimore City Hospitals Responding to the Opioid Epidemic, which will enshrine evidence-based hospital interventions and publicly recognize hospitals that implement them. A hospital can be level 3, 2, or 1—with a level 1 hospital responding to the epidemic as comprehensively as possible. The Levels of Care builds on progress already made by the City's emergency departments, all of which will offer universal addiction screening, peer recovery specialists, and on-demand medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction by the fall of 2018. As of 2023, all city hospitals have been recognized at a certain level. For more information on the Levels of Care Initiative for Baltimore City Hospitals Responding to the Opioid Epidemic, click here.

Past Initiatives:

Real-Time Capacity:
In the fall of 2017, the Baltimore City Health Department developed a real-time capacity tool to track treatment capacity for new and returning clients among a small group of community-based providers. These providers updated their capacity for new patients daily, and that information was utilized by staff who operated the 24/7 Crisis, Information, and Referral hotline (now 988). This tool served as a proof of concept for a more sophisticated tracking system to be implemented across the public behavioral health system, which was being developed with support from the Open Society Institute. The real-time capacity tool was expanded to CharmCare.org to enhance referrals from community-based organizations to treatment facilities. 

Baltimore City, Stabilization Center:

In April 2018, the City's Stabilization Center pilot began seeing patients, and full implementation is set for the spring of 2019. The Stabilization Center provides a safe place for individuals who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol, one where they can receive short-term medical and social interventions. These include medical screening and monitoring, connections to behavioral health and social services, and initiating treatment for opioid addiction with buprenorphine.

Through EMS transport, the Center diverts patients who meet specific criteria from emergency departments and provides stronger links to community-based behavioral health care. It creates a non-traditional access point for individuals with behavioral health needs who engage in high-risk substance use and related behaviors and who are experiencing a crisis and at risk of overdose. This began Baltimore's efforts to create a 24/7 behavioral health emergency department. Just as a patient with a physical complaint can go into an emergency department at any time of the day for treatment, a person who has an addiction must be able to access treatment on demand. For more information on the Baltimore City Stabilization Center, click here.

Mobile Crisis Services
The City operates a mobile crisis team through Baltimore Crisis Response, Inc. This team can respond to any mental health or substance use crisis in Baltimore City between 7:00 a.m. and midnight, providing immediate assessment, intervention, and treatment. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 988. 

Hub and Spokes:
Modeled after initiatives in Rhode Island for Substance In the fall of 2017, the City began piloting a "hub and spokes" model of buprenorphine treatment that built on the work of the Baltimore Buprenorphine Initiative to increase the availability of addiction treatment in the primary care setting. The "hub"—Institute for Behavior Resources, Inc., REACH Health Services— is considered a low-threshold access point: most days, patients can walk in and begin treatment without an appointment. Patients received individualized, comprehensive care; all three medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of opioid use disorder were available. After a patient's condition has improved, there was the option to continue therapy at a primary care clinic or a "spoke"—where the treatment for opioid use disorder is integrated into the rest of her medical care. The hub worked with each spoke to help providers feel comfortable incorporating addiction treatment into their practice. This pilot has since been discontinued. In April 2018, one hub and 11 said sites were operational.