The MarylandAlliance for the Poor pursues public policies and funding that protect the well-being and dignity of Maryland children, families, seniors, and single adults living in or near poverty.MAP believes that State policy should assist Maryland residents with limited financial resources to move beyond their current circumstances, with the help of progressive policies on the inter-related issues of homelessness, affordable housing, energy, health, hunger, employment, taxes, child care, and welfare reform.
At best, about a third of Marylanders who need substance abuse treatment are able to get it. Those in need are men, women, and children representing all ages, races, ethnicities, religions, and income brackets, and they live in every jurisdiction in the state.
Of those who receive treatment in the publicly funded system, a little more than one-third are women and a little less than one-half are African American. Sixty percent (60%) had a high school diploma or GED or more education and 30% were employed full- or part-time out of the home.
A wealth of research proves that treatment works:
Maryland’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration’s 2004 Annual Report shows detailed data on how treatment in our state reduces drug use, increases employment, reduces crime, and reduces homelessness.
A National Treatment Improvement Evaluation Study found that in the year after treatment:
•The proportion of patients using any drug dropped by 41%;
•Those selling drugs decreased by 78%, and those arrested on any charge fell 64%;
•Those requiring medical care due to alcohol or other drug use decreased 54%; and
•Those becoming homeless decreased 42%.
§A nationally respected study published in 1994 found that for every $1 invested in treatment, $7 was saved in public safety and health care costs.
The University of Maryland’s Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) states that alcohol abuse is estimated to cost Maryland $3.4 billion a year and illicit drug abuse costs $2.2 billion. It estimates that an untreated drug abuser costs State taxpayers $43,300 NOT to treat him or her, while treatment can cost from $1,000 to $7,500.
The FY ‘06 appropriation to the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration (ADAA) totaled $132 million, including $125 million for prevention, intervention, and treatment services. ADAA funds treatment programs in every jurisdiction in the state, through local health departments and private nonprofit providers. Services available include outpatient drug-free and medication-assisted treatment, intermediate care facilities, halfway houses, and long-term residential treatment. Detox and prevention programs are also funded. Not all modalities of services are available in every jurisdiction.
Gaps and Challenges
Level funding of publicly funded treatment programs has resulted in a reduction of services. Programs have to pay higher health insurance and fuel costs, rent, and utilities, but their grant levels have not increased to help meet these infrastructure needs. Salaries have also remained stagnant, creating a workforce crisis in a field that is already short-staffed.
Thousands of non-violent offenders with alcohol and drug addictions fill Maryland’s prisons and jails and few receive treatment while incarcerated. When released, recidivism is high. Despite the success of Drug Courts and other diversion programs in Maryland and throughout the country, comparatively few resources are invested in treatment instead of jail, costing taxpayers more money, destroying our communities, and wasting lives. And many people in the criminal justice system who have the opportunity to get treatment instead of jail time, sit in jail as treatment slots are not available.
There is a dearth of residential treatment services for women in Maryland. In the past two years, the amount of services has decreased across the state, providing women, and those with children, few options when seeking that level of care.
Not all types of prevention, intervention, and treatment programs are available in every jurisdiction of the state. Lack of transportation exacerbates barriers to services, especially in rural areas.
In Maryland, while African Americans make up 28% of the population, and while Caucasians and African Americans use drugs at similar rates, African Americans represent 68% of those arrested for drug offenses and 90% of those incarcerated for drug offenses.
Private insurance providers have benefits that strictly limit the amount of treatment covered and sometimes do not cover addiction treatment at all.
The stigma related to the disease of addiction and the process of recovery often results in discrimination that can prevent people from obtaining public assistance, health insurance, employment, housing, and education.