Counties Host Opioid Addictions Summit: More Work Needed

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman, and Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh hosted a Tri-County Opioids Addiction Summit which included special guest Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford.

Panel discussions tackled the topic from multiple angles including health, safety, education, prevention and contained data and research updates. A collaborative and multifaceted approach on state and local levels was an underlying theme.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

Law enforcement and health departments are “overrun” with the epidemic, said Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, who chairs the state’s task force on heroin and opioid addiction. He said early education and public outreach is key in order to stem the pipeline of opioid addicts.

Fueled by a rise in prescription drug abuse, the number of statewide deaths linked to opioid use has increased by more than 100 percent in the last five years, according to state data. Some pockets of the state have the highest per capita rate of opioid drug abuse in the country.

Many users cycle through the county’s detention centers where the county has a unique opportunity to work with opioid users, said Patricia Schupple, deputy director of the Howard County Department of Corrections.

But few users stay long enough for the detention center to make a long-term and sustainable difference, Schupple said.

“The jail has become a community agency,” she said.

Harford County has already surpassed the number of heroin overdose deaths from the year before, revealing that the epidemic recognizes no ZIP codes or demographic and permeates all communities, said Harford County Executive Barry Glassman.

Despite efforts to improve public outreach, heroin continues to take a hold on the county, Glassman said.

In Anne Arundel County, the sheriff’s office electronically tags for warrants linked to heroin use, an innovative system that Schuh said makes the fight against heroin use a top priority.

Schuh called opioid addiction an “octopus from hell” with “tentacles that reach every aspect of life.”

Read The Baltimore Sun for more information.

Prior coverage on Conduit Street: Counties Join Forces to Host Opioids Addiction Summit