Maryland is no exception to the nationwide opioid epidemic that continues to rage. According to data released by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, from January to September of 2016, Maryland recorded roughly 1,468 overdose deaths. 738 of these deaths were fentanyl-related. Further, a recent article in the Baltimore Sun reported that Baltimore alone is home to around 21,000 heroin users. Federal and state officials have been desperately seeking solutions that would help Americans to heal from and avoid opioid addiction. Maryland here is no exception as well. The Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Leana Wen, has been outspoken on the crisis, and gained nationwide attention for her policies and tactics. Now Governor Larry Hogan and Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford are stepping up to the plate with new legislation that they hope will restore some health and peace to Maryland residents.
New Anti-Heroin Legislation in Maryland
Three primary pieces of legislation have just been unveiled, in hopes of countering the addiction crisis in Maryland. The Prescriber Limits Act, much as it sounds, will prevent physicians from prescribing more than a week’s worth of opioid painkillers at first visit. The second, The Distribution of Opioids Resulting in Death Act, will make it a felony (punishable by up to 30 years in prison) for people convicted of selling opioids that lead to someone else’s death. Finally, the Overdose Prevention Act will streamline the process or filling prescriptions for naloxone, the overdose reversal drug; it will also authorize collection and review of non-fatal overdose data, so that the appropriate agencies and channels can access and use this data to identify trends and be more proactive. An additional executive order will create an Opioid Operations Command Center- a task force and central location for organizing training and resources for anti-addiction groups, and will collect data on opioid abuse.
Hope for the Future
While the epidemic has seemingly worsened, we can’t help but be optimistic that the issue has garnered such attention at the state and federal levels, that our elected officials are taking real action towards helping addicts to recover, and preventing more from falling prey to addiction. While these actions are encouraging and admirable, we need to take action at the community level as well. Getting involved in the recovery community, or in local anti-addiction organizations, is a great way to do your part to help.
Help is Available
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the professional staff at Serenity Acres is ready to help. Call today for your free confidential assessment, to see if inpatient treatment may be the answer you are looking for: 1-800-203-2024.