In February of 2015, Maryland governor Larry Hogan created the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force in response to the heroin epidemic sweeping across the state. Heroin overdose deaths more than doubled in the state in just a few years, with 247 deaths in 2011 to 578 deaths in 2014. The problem is no longer limited to the inner city, either- rural and suburban counties across the state are suffering from the ravages of heroin addiction.
Hogan’s Task Force
The task force, chaired by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, was established in order to improve public awareness, increase access to treatment for those in need, improve quality of care, find alternatives to incarceration for non-violent drug offenders, and improve law enforcement coordination.The committee is made up of experts in drug-related law enforcement, substance abuse treatment, addiction experts, and a mother who lost her daughter to this disease. Regional summits were held in the Upper/Lower Shores, Central, Southern, Western, and DC areas, which gave Maryland residents statewide the opportunity to voice their concerns and make suggestions. This task force is truly a joint effort, that will hopefully make a positive head start in repairing the damage heroin and other opiates have created in our state.
In August of the same year, the task force released its first interim report, which was the outcome of months of research, discussion, and cooperation. The report includes research findings, status of individual workgroups, resource allocation recommendations, and preliminary advisements for state efforts. As noted in a press release on Maryland.gov at the end of the summer, the task force made ten specific suggestions for use by state agencies or relevant organizations, including:
- Earlier and Broader Incorporation of Heroin and Opioid Prevention into the Health Curriculum
- Infusion of Heroin and Opioid Prevention into Additional Disciplines
- Heroin and Opioid Addiction Integrated into Service Learning Projects
- Student-Based Heroin and Opioid Prevention Campaign
- Video PSA Campaign
- Maryland Emergency Department Opioid Prescribing Guidelines
- Maryland State Police Training on the Good Samaritan Law
- Maryland State Police Help Cards and Health Care Follow-Up Unit
- Faith-Based Addiction Treatment Database
- Overdose Awareness Week
Further, funding announcements were made related to improving access to treatment and quality of care, providing community-focused naloxone training and distribution; and expanding recovery options for women with children. The full Interim Report can be read here, and the final report for the Task Force will be due December 1, 2015.
If you or someone you know is struggling with heroin or opiate addiction, there is hope. Contact the treatment professionals at Serenity Acres today.