On June 5, The Frederick News-Post published an editorial recommending that the Narconon issue needs to be dealt with at the state level. The News-Post reasonably argued that the County Council’s vote on the historical designation of the Trout Run property is merely a short-term solution. Since I sit on the Health and Government Operations Committee in the House of Delegates, I believe that this is an issue that very closely aligns with our work.
State law requires a substance abuse treatment program — defined as any individual or organization that provides treatment, care, or rehabilitation for individuals who show the effects of drug abuse or alcohol abuse, and represents or advertises itself as an alcohol abuse or drug abuse treatment program — to be certified by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene before program services are provided. At my request, the legal staff of HGO has checked with a DHMH staff member who oversees this area. DHMH believes that the statute gives them all the authority they need to approve and regulate these programs. DHMH has not yet received an application from Narconon.
The certification requirements are clearly defined in the regulation (www.dsd.state.md.us/COMAR/SubtitleSearch.aspx?search=10.47.01). The regulations establish requirements for all alcohol and drug treatment programs in the areas of governance, clinical requirements, environmental requirements, staff requirements, patient rights and grievance procedures, program records, outcome evaluation, and referral agreements and program cooperation.
The regulations establish additional requirements according to the type of treatment provided, in the areas of early intervention, outpatient services, intensive outpatient services, residential services (ranging from low to high intensity), medically monitored inpatient services, detoxification services and maintenance therapy.
The Narconon issue has become highly emotional. Decisions regarding their suitability should not be influenced by these factors or any religious connection that the organization might have. The state of Maryland has a very detailed approval process in place that critically evaluates scientific and medical practices and outcomes.
Nevertheless, given that Narconon has no evidence of independent endorsements of their program, and the state of Georgia has recently banned their facilities, many of us will be watching very closely to ensure that an application submitted by their organization meets the strictest definition of the law.
Delegate Karen Lewis Young
writes from Frederick. She represents District 3A in the Maryland House of Delegates.