More money to treat heroin addicts in Maryland

Posted at 6:20 PM, Mar 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-11 18:22:19-05
The federal money will help 1,200 heroin addicts just like Charles Jones of West Baltimore.

"I was just not really liking the person I was, because I wasn't raised to be addicted to drugs,” said Jones, “I wasn't raised to be a drug addict or to be incarcerated, because of my drug addiction."

Jones came here to Chase Brexton Health Services in Mount Vernon for help, and today U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy toured that same clinic where he announced a major investment in fighting the opioid epidemic.

"I'm very happy to announce that HSS is awarding $94 million to 271 health centers across 45 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico," said Murthy.

That's $94 million dollars to provide whole-patient treatment, whether it’s medical, counseling or behavioral services, to some of the most at-risk people in some of the most underserved areas of the country.

"For Maryland, it will mean $1.7 million to five clinics---$300,000 right here to Chase Brexton,” said Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, “It's not about the money though.  It's about the people."

This investment in addiction treatment comes as heroin continues to claim more victims each day.  

Captain Lee Dunbar of the Harford County Narcotics Task Force says in a matter of a few hours this week, paramedics in that county responded to three overdoses.

"It absolutely is a bad batch of heroin,” said Dunbar, “What is in it right now, we don't know until we get our actual lab results and unfortunately that can take a matter of months."

And that's the challenge as heroin provides a $7 high that is costing a growing number of users their dreams, if not their lives.

"It gives me hope you know that I can smile and I don't feel like I'm a failure," said Jones.

In addition to Chase Brexton, the Baltimore Medical System and the Community Clinic will receive awards in Charm City along with clinics in Brandywine and Silver Spring.