Thank you for your April 16 editorial “Record fatal drug overdoses.” The Whig’s sincere and straightforward reporting on Governor Hogan’s Opioid Operational Command Center report is a welcome call to action.

As someone who volunteers many hours a week at Voices of Hope in Elkton, I want to add my support and that of my co-workers for your editorial’s insights and recommendations.

Yes, we do need more “real and compassionate conversations” about the realities of substance use disorder, a more accurate description of what was formerly known as drug addiction. We can start by acknowledging that substance use disorder is, as defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive use, despite harmful consequences.”

Perhaps fifteen years ago, it was easier to stigmatize and degrade people and families with substance use disorder as those with weak self-control and poor morals. Back then, we lacked the medical evidence and treatment strategies--with some major exceptions like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous--that understood how to help.

Now the 38% increase in fatal opioid overdoses on the Eastern Shore demands that all of us in our neighborhoods and communities come together to work on humane, life-saving solutions. The good news in the face of this drug epidemic is that there are evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery programs that work...and work well.

I know this firsthand through my volunteer service at Voices of Hope. People whose lives in addiction once wreaked havoc with their families are now successful in maintaining their sobriety and their recovery. With sufficient funding, accessible programs, and an informed community, we can work together to reverse and reduce this scourge. There is hope.

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