A Message from The Commissioner of Health

Since 2007 Baltimore City has lost over 5,000 lives to overdose and more than 25,000 Baltimore City residents are living with substance use disorder.

A Message of Our Commissioner:

Baltimore’s approach to combating opioid addiction and overdose is built on a four-pillar strategy which includes prevention, saving lives with Naloxone (the lifesaving medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose), increasing access to quality treatment, and increasing education and awareness to reduce stigma through a trauma-informed lens.

In recent years, Baltimore City Health Department and its partners have increased naloxone distribution and harm-reduction education. Because of this, Baltimore City residents have had the ability to administer over 4,550 doses of naloxone since 2015. The effort does not stop with saving lives. We must increase access to treatment and address addiction as the disease that it is. Treatment for this disease is just as unique as each individual. The Baltimore City Health Department is committed to countering barriers in access to long term treatment for our residents. Through initiatives such as Levels of Care, Hub and Spokes, and the Stabilization Center we have been able to make a difference on the lives of those impacted by addiction. We have expanded the types of treatment that we offer through the addition of low threshold mobile units such as Health Care on the SPOT, designed to reach our most vulnerable populations.

We recognize that the epidemic, as we know it today, is not new and many communities nation-wide, including in Baltimore, have been historically underserved. We know that we cannot respond to addiction in isolation or incarcerate our way out of it. As we work to address substance misuse, we must also address other health disparities, including violence, to meet individuals where they are. We know we must treat the health of our neighborhoods through increasing permanent and affordable housing, increasing job development, addressing the gaps within our education systems, emphasizing trauma-informed care, and combatting food insecurity.

I appreciate the commitment and dedication of residents, community outreach workers, and the first responders of Baltimore City who continue to save lives every day. We will continue to take action against the disease of addiction by working to establish holistic, person centered support for communities experiencing overdose deaths and providing community resources.

Letitia Dzirasa, M.D.
Commissioner of Health