The MACo Summer Conference session entitled “From the Front Lines: Tackling Opioid Misuse in Maryland” delved into the state’s opioid misuse crisis and focused on measures being taken on a state and local level to gather, analyze and use community level data to develop and implement plans to tackle the crisis.
Delegate Brett Wilson, is a member of the Lt. Governor’s Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force and served as a participating moderator on this panel. Delegate Wilson set the stage with an overview of drug and alcohol related deaths in Maryland with data from the Maryland Vital Statistics Administration. Delegate Wilson also discussed the Task Force and the charge before them, which includes developing recommendations for improving treatment and recovery services; improving coordination among all levels of law enforcement; developing alternatives for incarceration; and increasing public awareness. While the Task Force has completed its regional tour of the state to hear from residents, they are still completing its interim report which should be available in the next few weeks. The final report is due later this year.
Next Erin Haas, Overdose Prevention Local Programs Manager at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Behavioral Health Administration (BHA), discussed the Opioid Misuse Prevention Program (OMPP). Through this program grants were awarded to 22 local health departments to fund strategic planning for overdose prevention and opioid misuse communication campaigns. The strategic prevention framework includes collaborative efforts for capacity building, needs assessment and evaluation. Long term goals include reducing opioid misuse, reducing overdoses, and reducing drug overdose deaths. Over the course of the 4-5 year program, BHA provides technical support to grantees and the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy helps with data collection, process monitoring and program evaluation.
Francios Pradel, PhD at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy presented the data from a public opinion survey that her team collected and analyzed as part of the OMPP. Noting the lack of information around Marylander’s perceptions, attitudes and practices surrounding opioid use, the team conducted an anonymous 52-item survey through Facebook with the goal of collecting information on a county-by-county level that could help inform local OMPP needs assessments and media campaigns. The survey covered age of first use, access, perception of risk, stigma and awareness efforts. Though the survey had a limited duration and sample size, it generated useful information. For instance:
- 18-35 year olds are more likely to use opioids
- There is a perception that opioids are easily available
- There is low awareness of the Good Samaritan laws
The session was held from 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm on Friday, August 14, 2015 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. For more information about MACo’s Summer Conference, please visit www.mdcounties.org/MACoCon.