During last night’s State of the Union address, within the first few minutes and first two paragraphs the most powerful man in the world stood in front of a nationwide audience on the world’s biggest stage and said his hope during his dwindling time in the Oval Office would be “helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse.” The fact that President Barrack Obama, in the beginning of his last SOTU address, made mention of the horrendous epidemic that America currently faces due to opioids is no small feat. By this one sentence, there is little doubt that awareness of addiction is rising and the stigma associated with drug abuse and substance use disorders is slowly being shattered.

Breaking the Stigma of Addiction

However, there is much work to do. Yes, stigma surrounding addiction is being broken. Yes, addiction recovery advocacy is at an all-time high. Yes, national figures and political leaders are talking about drug addiction. Yes, the national consciousness on both sides of the political aisle is shifting from addiction as a criminal issue where addicts are incarcerated to a public health issue where sufferers of substance use disorders are offered the mental health and addiction treatment they so vitally need to heal. There is much progress being made, but the truth remains that there is much to do and most of the change will come from those on the ground level, not from lofty political positions or those talking abstractly about general beliefs and trends.

Communities Coming Together

The truth is that most change will occur from local providers, families and communities that band together as a united front with a multi-pronged approach to addiction in order to create change for one addict and one family at a time.

What does that mean?

Well, it means that addiction treatment providers, mental health therapists, counselors, doctors, local governmental agencies and law enforcement, non-profits, foundations and other community organizations must work together to impact their local residents that need help, allowing the waves of change to resonate from the individual and family through the community and then outward, eventually impacting the nationwide epidemic as a whole.

What does that look like?

Well, we can only speak from experience and methods that have proven effective thus far. Here at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center, we opened with the principal of being a community-driven program, meaning that what we did and the services we provided would be driven by community need and community collaboration.

So what have we done that has worked so far?

We understand that addiction is a family disease and thus as a provider we much also treat the entire family unit, not just the patient, so the entire family can be on a path of recovery. To that end we partnered with Caron Treatment Centers to offer a family support group twice a month. This group is absolutely free and open to parents and families in the community, not just related to a MARC or Caron client. The group offers help to families through peer-to-peer support. Additionally, we offered another free community service, our monthly educational seminars led by former Baltimore County drug czar Mike Gimbel. Mike, in personal recovery for over 40 years, has extensive experience as a drug counselor, treatment program developer and government employee. These seminars, educational in nature, are also open to the public and teach parents, teens, school counselors, students, law enforcement and anyone else in attendance about the latest in street drug trends, signs and symptoms of abuse, treatment options and other recovery resources.

Community Organizations

Other than community programs, we’ve partnered with numerous community organizations like NCADD-Maryland and NAMI Metro Baltimore as well as local non-profits like Jewish Recovery Services  and The New Day Campaign and local charitable foundations like The Nikki Perlow Foundation, The Brendan James Huber Foundation, James’ Place Inc. and The Daniel Carl Torsh Foundation to team up and educate the public about breaking down addiction stigma and available treatment and recovery resources. We have worked with the only collegiate recovery program in the Baltimore area at Loyola University to aid patients in early recovery pursue ongoing education in an environment supportive of their recovery. We have worked with Carroll County State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo and Treatment and Education Liaison for the Carroll County States Attorney’s Office Tim Weber on their ongoing initiatives to stamp out heroin addiction in Carroll County, Maryland. Other than the programs we offer here at MARC, we’ve created true partnerships with other local treatment providers like Caron Treatment Centers and Father Martin’s Ashley along with local therapists, recovery house owners and interventionists such as Don Sloane and Sam Davis to create a true continuum of care where professional providers can communicate, collaborate and create best practices for patients and families.

When someone is in need of help, both they and their family immediately go into crisis mode. In those cases, it is not President Obama, Suboxone manufacturers Reckitt Benckiser or Pax Prentiss and his late night “The Cure for Addiction” television commercials that will ultimately be able to step in and provide both hope and practical solutions for the problem. Addicts in need and families in need pick up the phone and call someone they know. A therapist, a provider, an interventionist, a friend in recovery or a family that has dealt with the same issue with their kid. They pick up the phone in need of help and help must come from a community ready with resources and willing to assist them in their greatest time of need. It is the relationships that we as treatment providers will have to assist them that will ultimately cause the biggest dent in our current epidemic of drug addiction. We as providers have a responsibility to create those relationships and those services because our communities, families and addicts in need deserve no less.

If you or someone you know is in need of help because of drug and/or alcohol abuse or addiction, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment in the Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia area.

If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at [email protected].

For more information on all of our drug addiction and alcohol addiction services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at

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