Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force Visits Lower Shore

Maryland’s Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force visited the lower shore Wednesday. The meeting, held at the St. Francis de Sales Philip & Barbara Long Parish Center in Salisbury, was the fifth regionally held in the state. Task force members heard testimony from officials and residents of  Caroline, Dorchester, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester counties. As reported in Delmarva Now:

One topic that was raised was the relationship between law enforcement and recovery resources. Gamble said in Talbot County, his deputies will be handing out a card to people who need help that will inform them about treatment resources.

Wicomico County Health Officer Lori Brewster said it would be helpful for there to be a statewide campaign relating to drug abuse.

That was something that Dr. Andrea Mathias, deputy health officer and medical director for the Worcester County Health Department, brought up as well. She said the work just to get a message on a billboard is extensive, and people throughout the state could benefit from many of the same messages.

And as reported in The Star Democrat:

“One of the things that we keep hearing about is the prevalence of the nonviolent drug offender who’s serving decades in the division of corrections. I can tell you Dorchester County courts are not putting simple drug users in prison for decades,” [Dorchester County State’s Attorney William] Jones said.

“We need to understand that the people who will traffic in heroin are ultimately putting … people at risk. For that reason, we have to understand that they are not nonviolent drug offenders,” he said. “They are doing violence to our citizens and to our children, much as if they were robbing a store, or assaulting a child, or anything else. So we have to really get away from this notion that those who traffic in these substances should be treated differently than any other violent offender.”

Caroline County Commission President Larry Porter said Caroline has some unique factors that come with its heroin and opioid abuse issue.

Caroline is the only county in the state without either a hospital or a standalone emergency center. While it is one of the most medically underserved counties in the state, it is also consistently one of the poorest counties in the state, Porter said, and a huge number of residents move between Caroline County and Delaware, making it difficult to track progress or provide assistance.

The county’s health department is the sole provider of addiction services, which is dependent on state funding. The future of that funding is unclear at this point, Porter said.

For more information read the full articles in Delmarva Now and The Star Democrat.