City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen, to Speak on Opioid Crisis March 18

Official photo of Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner.

We are pleased to announce special guest, Dr. Leana Wen, Commissioner of Health in Baltimore City, will join us March 18, 12:15 p.m., to discuss concrete steps the faith community and wider community can take to alleviate suffering due to the opioid crisis, including reducing the stigma around addiction and treating it as a disease.


The event takes place in the sanctuary after the 11 a.m. worship service, and is free and open to the community.


The discussion will include a:

  • 30-minute talk by Dr. Wen and a demonstration of how to use naloxone (also known as Narcan)—a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
  • 30-minute question and answer session facilitated by Rev. Andrew Foster Connors.


As Commissioner of Health in Baltimore City and facing an unprecedented number of people dying from overdose, Dr. Wen has issued a blanket prescription for the opioid antidote, naloxone, which has saved 1,500 lives in two years.


“Addiction is a disease, treatment works, and recovery is possible,” says Dr. Wen. “Research shows that naloxone distribution reduces fatal overdoses without increasing drug use, and that Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), combined with psychosocial supports, are critical to treating opioid addiction. Faith communities can help dispel myths about addiction, fight stigma, and collectively advocate for medical best practices in addressing this epidemic.”


Lynda Burton, chair of Brown Memorial’s Urban Witness committee, which is organizing this event, says, “While there are a wide array of underlying causes of opioid addiction, many at a societal level beyond our reach, we accept that we have an obligation to contribute to solutions. Dr. Wen’s activism has inspired us to examine what we, as individuals and as a faith  community, can do to help alleviate the enormous suffering that is occurring in our communities.”


Rev. Andrew Foster Connors adds, “The overdose epidemic in our city and across the state calls for a new strategy that treats drug use as an illness rather than a crime. The faith community has a responsibility to work against the barriers of stigma, racism, and inequity that are preventing our communities from receiving the healing that is possible and feeds a cycle of violence that exacerbate those inequities. We are excited to partner with Dr. Wen as she leads on this strategy that has already saved so many lives and sets the foundation that we need to build One Baltimore together.”


Dr. Wen is a board-certified emergency physician. She was a Rhodes Scholar, Clinical Fellow at Harvard, consultant with the World Health Organization, and professor at George Washington University. She has published more than 100 scientific articles and is the author of the book “When Doctors Don’t Listen.” In 2016, Dr. Wen received the American Public Health Association’s highest award for local public health work.


RSVP to attend the event on Brown’s Facebook page.


Download a  flier about the event.