A poll suggests that a majority of Maryland voters believe that treatment is a viable alternative to prison for substance abusers and that the state’s alcohol tax should be increased to pay for expanded drug treatment, reports the Baltimore Sun. The Open Society Institute-Baltimore commissioned the poll, which was released today. OSI hopes the poll’s findings will persuade state officials to allocate $30 million more annually for addiction services statewide. Baltimore would get $15 million to serve an additional 3,500 addicts annually.
Treatment advocates estimate that Baltimore has about 60,000 addicts and that the added funds would not solve the problem. They say that if Baltimore’s treatment network had the capacity to serve 45,000 addicts a year, the city might finally reach a “tipping point” in its battle against addiction. In 2005, 23,320 addicts received treatment. In a survey of more than 1,000 registered voters across the state, 69 percent view treatment as an effective way to help people overcome addictions, and 67 percent view drug treatment as being more effective than incarceration. Of those who knew someone with an addiction, 26 percent said the person was unable to obtain treatment, and 39 percent said the person was unable to enter publicly funded treatment.