Maryland’s First Stabilization Center to Open in Baltimore

Maryland’s First Stabilization Center to Open in Baltimore

According to city officials, the center will be a safe place for people under the influence of drugs and alcohol to sober up and receive short-term medical and social interventions, medical screening and monitoring, and referrals to behavioral health and social services.

City officials announced Wednesday plans for a stabilization center in Baltimore, Maryland, as part of the city’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis. The stabilization center would be the first in the state and would serve as a safe place for drug users to receive basic first aid, withdrawal management, and screening and referral to treatment on-site for those with a substance use disorder.

According to city officials, the center will be a safe place for people under the influence of drugs and alcohol to sober up and receive short-term medical and social interventions, medical screening and monitoring, and referrals to behavioral health and social services. Patients who need it may also be introduced to buprenorphine, an alternative drug used to treat opioid addiction.

“We are in the middle of a national epidemic for opioid addiction and overdose and yet we are still treating people with the disease of addiction different than anyone with any other disease,” Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana S. Wen said. “The stabilization center is one step in the direction of on-demand, evidence-based and compassionate treatment for people with the disease of addiction.”  

Patients will have to be brought by ambulance to the center, where emergency medical technicians will decide who fits the criteria for the center’s services, Wen said. The center will not take walk-ins.

According to the Maryland Department of Health, the state experienced 1,501 opioid-related deaths between January and September last year, included 1,173 deaths related to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. The largest number of deaths were in Baltimore.

The Baltimore City Health Department and Behavioral Health System Baltimore secured $3.6 million in capital funds in the state budget to build the center, and Maryland’s Department of health is providing $2.6 million for operating expenses.

Officials said the center will open next spring, though a pilot center will open on Monday.

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