Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force Meets
Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford today joined with members of the The Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, elected officials, law enforcement, and substance abuse advocates for the sixth regional summit to address Maryland’s growing heroin crisis.
The summit was held in Silver Spring at the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center.
The Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, created by Governor Larry Hogan in February 2015 with two executive orders and led by Lt. Governor Rutherford, is made up of law enforcement professionals, elected officials, and substance abuse experts. The group will meet regularly and solicit input and guidance from a wide variety of sources throughout the state, including educators, families of those suffering from addiction, and other vested stakeholders, according to a news release from the state.
“Throughout our campaign the governor and I visited every corner of the state, and everywhere we went, we heard tragic stories of how the heroin and addiction epidemic is destroying families and communities,” Rutherford said. “This is a problem that affects Marylanders of all walks of life, regardless of socio-economic status, race, religion, education, or any other demographic. The first step to combating this epidemic is to hear firsthand from those affected about how this crisis has impacted their communities, and getting their educated recommendations on what we can do.”
In May, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released its 2014 report on drug and alcohol-related intoxication deaths. The report found that 86 percent of all overdose deaths in 2014 involved opioids, and a 21 percent increase in overdose deaths compared to 2013. There is growing evidence that many new heroin addictions stem from the abuse of prescription painkillers, according to the state’s news release. Once addicted to these opioids, individuals may switch to increasingly cheap and “available” heroin, according to the release.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Health Officer Uma Ahluwalia, as well as Prince George’s County Health Officer Pamela Creekmur, also attended.