Substance abuse impacts countless lives. Even those who don’t fall prey to addiction suffer as they watch their loved ones change. Tragically, in a society where money rules, those who need help the most often go without it.
One organization aims to change that dynamic. Summit Maryland currently awaits loan funds to create a treatment center in one of southwest Baltimore’s most underserved communities. Tom Bond, the founder and former recipient of substance abuse treatment, hopes to heal others.
The Worsening Problem of Substance Abuse
Substance abuse has skyrocketed in the pandemic’s wake. Even before COVID-19 reared its ugly head, people turned to alcohol to tame their nerves before and during social events or cope with life’s tragedies. As society has experienced a collective trauma, those who struggled the most found themselves suddenly stripped of support systems like live meetings, even fitness centers.
Further complicating the issue was the fear many felt in seeking help. Many people shied away from medical centers to visit their therapists, for example, out of concern that they might unwittingly expose themselves to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While advances like telemedicine helped some, they only assisted those individuals with sufficient privilege to have computers and internet access, allowing them to connect.
Even before the pandemic, poor socioeconomic conditions fueled the opioid epidemic, and those circumstances have worsened since in many areas. For example, unequal access to medical services eroded primary care in America. It led many physicians to prescribe opioids as a panacea only after someone became so sick that they could postpone treatment no longer. Expanding health care access to all through a single-payer plan would enable patients to seek care before they reach the pain point of no return, and their disorders deteriorate to the point where more aggressive treatments become necessary.
While substance abuse treatment won’t correct the socioeconomic conditions that lead many to use in the first place, it can provide them with healthier coping mechanisms. By giving people the tools to end addiction, Summit Maryland effectively removes one hurdle keeping such individuals from leading productive lives.
The Summit Maryland Mission
Bond and his team set their sights on the former Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center, hoping to raise $4 million to put a $1.4 million down payment on the property. The remainder will go toward renovations and funding for the first 18 months of operation.
Summit itself is a hybrid organization consisting of a nonprofit side, the Summit Community Foundation, and a for-profit entity, Summit Community Health. The nonprofit side hopes to begin with beds for Medicaid-eligible patients and expand as they bring on more partners. They’ve already acquired a second property off Moravia Road containing 12 beds for those who no longer require inpatient care but who need weekly services and a place to live while they further their recovery.
The Southwest Baltimore location is critical. Few services currently exist to serve community members, and residents often hesitate to cross the Hanover Street Bridge to seek treatment in other parts of the city.
Expanding Substance Abuse Treatment
Substance abuse was a growing problem before the pandemic and has only grown worse as society nears its wake. Organizations such as Summit Maryland deserve all the support they can get in addressing this pressing need.