Listen to Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner on NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook, discuss the opioid crisis with Dr. Andrew Kolondy, co-director of opioid policy research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University and others (discussion begins near the 12:56 mark, with Dr. Wen’s interview starts around 22:44 mark).
In the broadcast, Dr. Wen stresses the importance of treating the opioid epidemic as a public health issue rather than a criminal one, saying that incarceration does nothing to help; rather, it actually stigmatizes those suffering from substance use disorders. To continue treating addiction as a “moral failure” is, “unscientific, inhumane and ineffective,” Wen said.
As part of the effort to divert low-level drug offenders to treatment and other support services and away from arrest, OSI-Baltimore is the primary funder of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, which launched this week. OSI-Baltimore worked in conjunction with Behavioral Health System Baltimore (BHSB), the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), and the State’s Attorney’s office to design and implement the program.