Baltimore, a city long plagued by some of the nation’s highest crime and drug-overdose rates, has improved dramatically on both fronts partly because of a massive investment in drug treatment programs, says USA Today. Drug overdoses and property crimes in Baltimore are at decade lows. Drugs killed 218 Baltimore residents in 2005, down 33.5 percent from a peak of 328 in 1999, ealth Commissioner Josh Sharfstein said. Officials credit huge spending increases on drug treatment and improvements in policing, efforts that treatment specialists said could serve as a national model for reducing the effects of illegal drugs on communities.
Baltimore has more than doubled its budget for drug treatment since 1997, spending $52.9 million in 2005 to treat 28,672 people for drug addiction, up from $20.3 million for 18,449 people nine years ago. Financier George Soros’s foundation gave the city $25 million to rejuvenate local treatment programs in 1997. Soros said he was so pleased by Baltimore’s results that his foundation is offering $10 million to cities that want to copy Baltimore’s program.