Data Show Opioid Crisis Continues in Montgomery, Maryland

New data from the state health department show the opioid crisis continues in Montgomery County and Maryland.

In the first quarter of 2017, Montgomery County had 27 overdose deaths compared with 21 in the same period in 2016, the Maryland Department of Health reported. Across the state, 550 overdoses were recorded in the first quarter, compared with 401 during the same period in 2016.

The data includes all drug and alcohol overdose deaths.

Even though the numbers are small, the county increase does not necessarily mean the issue isn’t getting worse, according to Dr. Raymond Crowel, chief of Behavioral Health and Crisis Services for the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services.

“It’s a continuation of a trend. It’s too early to say if it’s going to continue on,” said Crowel, a psychologist. “I’m hoping we can turn the curve down.”

Data collected for Montgomery County put opioid-related overdoses at 19 for the first quarter, which ended March 31. For all of 2016, the county had 84 opioid-related overdoses. In Maryland, 473 opioid-related overdoses were recorded for the first quarter. For 2016, the state had 1,856.

Montgomery County is attacking the issue on a number of fronts, Crowel said. For one, police are trying to take heroin and other opioids off the street.

For another, the county has treatment services at its Avery Road Treatment Center in Rockville.

Montgomery County Public Schools, too, is fighting the opioid crisis by stocking naloxone in schools. In emergencies, Naloxone can reverse an overdose from opioids.

Although the county hasn’t recorded an overdose death under the age of 18, the drug is in schools because the school system and the health department know youths are experimenting with drugs, Crowel said.

“It’s a statement of where we are in the country at this point,” he said.

The placement in schools is part of the “Start Talking Maryland Act,” passed in the 2017 General Assembly, which included a number of steps to increase awareness of opioid addiction and prevention in colleges and schools.

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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug

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