The Opioid Scourge – A Narrative History

As Maryland continues to battle the persistent and growing plague of heroin and opioid misuse and overdose, many ask “how did this happen?” A long form article in National Affairs sheds light – albeit a disturbing one – on many of the steps that led to this crisis.

From the article:

The nation has weathered drug epidemics before, but the current affliction — a new plague for a new century, in the words of Nicholas Eberstadt — is different. Today, the addicted are not inner-city minorities, though big cities are increasingly reporting problems. Instead, they are overwhelmingly white and rural, though middle- and upper-class individuals are also affected. The jarring visual of the crisis is not an urban “gang banger” but an overdosed mom slumped in the front seat of her car in a Walmart parking lot, toddler in the back.

If there is reason for optimism in the midst of this crisis, it is that national and local politicians and even police are placing emphasis on treatment over punishment. And, without question, the nation needs considerably more funding for treatment; Congress must step up. Yet the much-touted promise of treatment — and particularly of anti-addiction medications — as a panacea has already been proven wrong. Perhaps “we can’t arrest our way out of the problem,” as officials like to say, but nor are we treating our way out of it. This is because many users reject treatment, and, if they accept it, too many drop out. Engaging drug users in treatment has turned out to be one of the biggest challenges of the epidemic — and one that needs serious attention.

Read Sally Satel’s National Affairs article in its entirety online.

Opioid issues will be highlighted at the upcoming MACo Summer Conference, with a workshop on current issues in combating the threat, and a Saturday morning “open forum” with leadership from the State’s Operations Center coordinating the fight across Maryland. Read more about both sessions in our brochure.

The MACo Summer Conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme is “You’re Hired!”.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties