The use of heroin and other opioids, often by people addicted to painkillers, is killing more Marylanders in 2016 than ever before. Anne Arundel County ranks third in the state for fatal heroin overdoses.
That’s part of the reason the county’s Department of Health and law enforcement agencies held a panel discussion for the public Tuesday evening. Heroin and opioid abuse, addiction, and treatment options were the topics of discussion.
According to WMAR,
A panel of experts and those affected by opioid and heroin addiction were on hand to share their experiences and to answer questions from the public.
“Anne Arundel County is the third highest in opioid overdoses in the state and we are also getting worse at a rate that is rather alarming,” Sandy Smolnicky said.
Smolnicky was on that panel. She and the Department of Health has seen the number of opioid overdoses go through the roof. In 2015, the county had close to 360 overdoses reported, by the end of this year that number could be close to 900. Her goal is to make the public aware of the heroin problem.
“By educating the public, educating students early and getting communities involved. Anyone is invited to the meeting,” she said.
Smolnicky says in the past these meetings have been intense.
“They attract parents who may have little children at home who look ahead and say “I’m scared to death, what do I do, what do I look for.” So parents come forward, they are asking us questions about what are the signs and symptoms and so those of us who have had experiences in our family… we are really trying to prevent this,” she said.
Heroin use brings with it crime and with the homicides in Annapolis at record numbers, and that’s something Annapolis Police are all too familiar with.
“Heroin has caused an upswing in violence in Annapolis. It’s important for us to do what we can through education as well as our job, arresting people to help with the heroin problem in this county,” said Cpl. Amy Miguez, spokeswoman for the Annapolis Police.
“The more we educate the community and tell them what the resources are, we’ll be their to help… we’ll go anywhere,” Smolnicky said.
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Anne Arundel County has worked hard to educate the public on the horrific effects of heroin and opioid abuse.
The “Not My Child” public service announcement features individuals who have abused heroin, as well as their families, telling stories of addiction and loss. All those featured in the video contacted county government after County Executive Schuh declared a public health emergency for the heroin crisis in January 2015.
Visit Anne Arundel County’s website for more information.