When talking about fighting drug addiction, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh likes to pose a question: “If you had a child who was on drugs, would you treat them in the neighborhood in which they were drug addicted?”
Then she answers, as she did at a news conference last week: “I would think that your answer would be ‘no,’ you’d put them on a plane to Timbuktu or somewhere.”
Pugh has publicly used the formulation twice in recent weeks as she calls for the city to rethink how it works to treat the estimated 7,000 of its 24,000 opioid users who are not currently getting help. She says she agrees with the growing consensus that addiction should be viewed as a health problem rather than a criminal one. But she argues treatment needs to be shifted away from neighborhoods — where she says patients have a worse chance of getting better, and where clinics become magnets for drug dealers.