The Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, chaired by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, released its interim report on Tuesday, August 25. The interim report presents the ongoing work and findings of the Task Force, and includes some initial recommendations. As announced in a press release:
The Task Force’s Interim Report reflects the Task Force’s findings, the ongoing efforts of its workgroups, immediate resource allocations, and preliminary recommendations. Specifically, the report includes 10 recommendations that can be put into place by relevant state agencies at little or nominal cost within just a few weeks. They are as follows:
1. Earlier and Broader Incorporation of Heroin and Opioid Prevention into the Health Curriculum
2. Infusion of Heroin and Opioid Prevention into Additional Disciplines
3. Heroin and Opioid Addiction Integrated into Service Learning Projects
4. Student-Based Heroin and Opioid Prevention Campaign
5. Video PSA Campaign
6. Maryland Emergency Department Opioid Prescribing Guidelines
7. Maryland State Police Training on the Good Samaritan Law
8. Maryland State Police Help Cards and Health Care Follow-Up Unit
9. Faith-Based Addiction Treatment Database
10. Overdose Awareness Week
The report also includes 10 funding announcements to improve access to treatment and quality of care, including expanding Kent County’s A.F. Whitsitt Center, a residential treatment facility for adults suffering from chemical dependency, to a 40-bed center; providing community-based naloxone training and distribution; and expanding supportive recovery housing for women with children.
The Maryland Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force is a Hogan-Rutherford Administration initiative to fight addiction and reduce drug use and drug-related crime in the state. The 11 member committee was created through an Executive Order and charged in part with advising and assisting the Governor on how to treat and reduce heroin and opioid abuse, and developing recommendations concerning treatment and recovery services, law enforcement coordination, alternatives to incarceration, public awareness, and education.
Through regional summits and meetings, the Task Force brought together a broad range of stakeholders to help develop a plan to deal with the state-wide crisis. The Task Force held six regional summits across the state to hear testimony from local officials, advocates, law enforcement, experts, and residents on the challenges, success and unresolved needs to address the disease of addiction and the heroin epidemic in their communities. The final report is due to the Governor December 1, 2015.