Baltimore’s City Health Commissioner Fights Against Opioid Addiction
Baltimore’s City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen, has taken the fight against opioid addiction into her own hands. With more people in Baltimore dying from overdoses than homicide, Dr. Wen felt it was time to take action against this deadly epidemic. In a bold plan to destigmatize drug use and save lives, Wen has now made Naloxone available without a prescription to those who complete simple training.
As City Health Commissioner, Wen has fought back against critics who have claimed her plan encourages people to keep using drugs, and who feel that harsher drug enforcement is the solution. “Addiction is a disease, not a criminal justice issue. And actually for us to treat it as such… it’s inhumane, it’s unethical, and it’s unscientific.”
Last year in Baltimore, Naloxone training saved nearly 400 lives from fatal heroine overdose. Naloxone has the power to reverse the effects of opioids and revive a user who has overdosed. Naloxone is only to be used in emergency overdose situations. By making this lifesaving drug available without a prescription, Dr. Wen hopes to increase Naloxone availability amongst the populations that need it the most.
Between 2001 and 2014, there was a 3.4-fold increase in the total number of prescription opioid-related deaths in the United States. In these same years, there was a 6-fold increase in the number of heroine overdose deaths. Addiction to both prescription opioid medications and heroine has become a severe problem across the country. Dr. Wen hopes that by taking steps to address the epidemic plaguing her city of Baltimore, she can save lives and get people the addiction treatment they need.
“We are not defined by the things that happen to us, we are defined by what it is that we choose to do about it.” – Dr. Leana Wen
Watch the Fusion Media video here.
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