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O?Malley enlarges council on drug and alcohol abuse

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Len Lazarick

An expanded Maryland Drug and Alcohol Council was established Tuesday by Gov. Martin O?Malley with an executive order that seeks to better coordinate the state?s delivery of $184 million in drug and alcohol treatment.

"There are a lot of people in our state who are suffering ... sick and not realizing their full potential in God?s eyes because of the monkey on their backs of drug addiction," O?Malley said. Despite its high number of doctors, Maryland is still one of the most violent states, the governor said, and "a big, big part of that is untreated drug addiction."

The state spends a lot of money on arresting, convicting and jailing drug addicts, but not enough on treating their addiction, O?Malley added.

One of the new appointees, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Joshua Scharfstein, said the recent expansion of Medicaid health insurance to more low-income families would "help with substance abuse" because it includes coverage for some treatment.

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