Kevin Brown of Baltimore knew he was hooked on crack cocaine, but he never imagined that he also suffered from a mental illness until he walked into Baltimore Behavioral Health Inc., says the Baltimore Sun. After he went to the private, nonprofit Southwest Baltimore clinic in 2007 hoping to kick his drug habit, a psychiatrist diagnosed him with major depression. Soon, he was living in one of the agency’s houses, taking antidepressants and spending hours each day in group therapy, half of it focused on mental illness. The treatment lasted months and cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.
Addicts who step into Baltimore Behavioral Health from the city’s drug-racked streets are three times more likely to be deemed mentally ill than are addicts treated at other centers across Maryland. The agency long has funneled patients into the costliest outpatient treatment programs available to poor Marylanders – programs they would not qualify for without a diagnosis that they have a psychiatric illness. In some years, the center has swallowed up 85 percent of the taxpayer funds spent on intensive outpatient mental health care across Maryland.