Bipartisan Majorities in MD-6 Favor Providing More Substance Abuse Treatment

Bipartisan Majorities in MD-6 Favor Providing More Substance Abuse Treatment

Share Views in Forum With Congressman Trone

A new public consultation, which surveyed 747 residents of Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, shows that majorities of both Republicans and Democrats support several proposals under consideration in Congress to provide more funding for substance abuse treatment. A bipartisan majority supports increasing funding to help make treatment available to everyone who needs and wants it, expanding and improving treatment in prisons, and training law enforcement to divert people into treatment rather than prison. 

The public consultation survey – conducted online by the national nonpartisan nonprofit organization, Voice of the People – found that over half of MD6 residents personally know someone who misuses drugs or alcohol, and more than four-in-ten know someone who died from a drug overdose.

The survey results were released and discussed on Sunday at a public consultation forum in Gaithersburg, MD, in which Congressman David Trone and constituents who took the public consultation survey discussed the topic and findings. You can view the full Sunday forum here.

The public consultation process is designed to give the public a more effective voice in the policymaking process. Sunday’s public consultation forum was convened by Voice of the People and co-hosted by Maryland Matters, a statewide nonpartisan nonprofit news outlet covering government and politics.

“I really appreciate Voice of the People and Maryland Matters for putting this together, because the more we talk about these issues, the more we can normalize that these are problems that everyday Americans struggle with all the time,” said Congressman Trone. “I love this process, because I love listening to my constituents and trying to learn about issues impacting them. I have my staff here taking notes, so we can get ideas for my work in Congress.”

The survey found that an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 83% favor increasing federal spending on treatment for substance use disorders by $10 billion, which experts estimate could enable nearly all people who need and want treatment to get it. Eight-in-ten Republicans and nine-in-ten Democrats favor this proposal. These funds would be used to expand the number and size of treatment centers; offer free or low-cost treatment to those who can not afford it; and train healthcare professionals in best practices to treat substance use disorders. The proposal is in the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency Act.

Increasing funding for treatment programs in prison, to make them more available and bring them more up-to-date with best practices, was also favored by an overwhelming bipartisan majority (MD-6 overall 78%, Republicans 71%, Democrats 86%). This proposal is based on the Residential Substance Use Disorder Treatment Act.

A proposal for training more law enforcement officers to divert non-violent offenders with a substance use disorder into treatment rather than charge them with a crime was favored by a large bipartisan majority (74%), including 68% of Republicans and 81% of Democrats. This proposal is part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act 3.0, sponsored by Rep. Trone. 

“Every public consultation we do focuses on a specific topic, such as the addiction crisis. Citizens are briefed beforehand and come to the forum equipped to have an informed and civil dialogue with their representatives,” said Voice of the People’s Vice President, JP Thomas. “At public consultation forums, the views of a representative sample of citizens are first put forward, citizens can elaborate on their views, the congressional representative responds, and there is a discussion.”

The 747 residents from Maryland’s 6th District who participated in the online survey went through a process called a ‘policymaking simulation’ that gives users information and seeks to put them in the shoes of a policymaker. Respondents are provided a briefing, presented with pro and con arguments, and then asked to register their views. Policymaking simulations used in public consultations have been developed by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation, with input from experts on different sides of the issue to assure accuracy and balance.

The views expressed in Maryland’s 6th District were similar to those in nationwide surveys with samples of more than 2,000 voters provided by Nielsen Scarborough.

The 747 respondents were obtained from Precision Sample. The sample was weighted by age, race, gender, and education consistent with the Census’ 2023 American Community Survey (ACS), as well as for partisan affiliation using the most recent State of Maryland Board of Elections voter registration data for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.

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