The problem seems almost insurmountable: 430,000 Marylanders, and more than 1 out of 5 resident between the ages of 18 and 25 are dependent on or abused alcohol illicit drugs in the past year, according to the latest National Surveys on Drug Use and Health estimates. Still, the state’s efforts toward prevention and treatment are bearing fruit, said Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) Secretary John M. Colmers as he kicked off the state’s recognition of National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, Tuesday.

“Despite having higher percentages of admissions with multiple substance problems, cocaine and heroin abuse, injecting drug use, mental health problems, and criminal justice origin, Maryland’s treatment outcomes were comparable to, or more positive than those of surrounding states and the rest of the nation,” he said in a department press release. “This is good news, and it is a reflection of the impact of our collective efforts.”  

According to the release, in 2009 state and local health officials provided prevention services to 225,000 persons and treatment to 72,000 individuals.

Research shows that each $1 spent on treatment saves approximately $7 in criminal justice, healthcare and lost productivity costs since it reduces substance use, homelessness and crime, and increases employment. 

At the Sept. 7 event held on the grounds of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration in Catonsville, Secretary Colmers presented a proclamation from Gov. Martin O’Malley. He was joined by joined by Robert Hendricks from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the organization that has promoted this observance for the 21st year. Keith Mills, sportscaster for WBAL Radio delivered the keynote address. 

More information on other Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month events in Maryland is available on the ADAA website www.dhmh.md.gov/adaa  under “What’s New.”