While news of radical terrorism continues to capture the headlines, another deadly form of terrorism — substance abuse — is taking over the United States and is, literally, getting away with murder.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has correctly identified heroin as one of the most life-destroying weapons in this evil enemy’s arsenal. It’s high time we take a hard look at the hard facts.
In 2012, nine Americans were slain on U.S. soil by radical terrorists; five more died at their fanatical hands in 2013. Meanwhile, deaths from drug overdoses in 1999 were 16,849; by 2010, that number had risen to 38,329. Between 2010 and 2012, the number of lives lost to heroin doubled. Those grim numbers grow with deadly speed as the heroin terror wave crashes from coast to coast. It now threatens to occupy all of the United States.
No state in this nation has been more quietly terrorized by heroin than Maryland, my Maryland. Hopefully, the state’s attempt to hush the national media’s branding of Baltimore as “the heroin capital of America” is over.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced plans to launch a strong counteroffensive in his state’s heroin war. Now a game-changing pushback on the pushers can finally begin.
Until now, no one in Maryland had been willing even to listen to a report from the front line of this battle, which we are losing. Until now, there has been no resolve in Maryland to reform the policies and treatment practices that simply have not been working. For decades.
As pastor of New Life Evangelical Baptist Church and founder and president of what is now the largest faith-based methadone treatment center in the United States, treating almost 2,000 addicted patients a day, I have been fighting this war in the trenches of drug-ravaged East Baltimore for 30 years.
I know that while prescription drugs are often gateways to substance abuse, especially in the predominantly white suburbs and rural areas, they are also the path many users take to heroin, a cheaper, easier-to-acquire and highly addictive substance. So it certainly is time for Maryland to begin leading the way out of heroin’s grip by first admitting that it has a problem. Then it can begin helping our nation free the heroin addicts.
When we opened Turning Point Clinic in East Baltimore 13 years ago, our mantra was “The way back starts here.”
With Hogan’s leadership, Maryland could become the model for an effective counteroffensive against heroin. The state’s new mantra could then be “the pushback on heroin starts here.”
The writer is pastor of New Life Evangelical Baptist Church in Baltimore and founder of Turning Point Clinic.