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Maryland Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force Hosts Southern Maryland Regional Summit

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Summit Covers Calvert, Charles, St. Mary’s Counties

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force today held its third regional summit to address Maryland’s growing heroin crisis. The summit was held in Calvert County at the College of Southern Maryland Prince Frederick Campus.

The Maryland 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 comprised of elected officials, substance abuse experts and law enforcement officials. The group meets regularly and solicits input and guidance from a wide variety of sources throughout the state, including educators, families of those suffering from addiction, former addicts, and other vested stakeholders. St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron chaired today’s summit, while Lt. Governor Rutherford provided support for Governor Hogan as this administration deals with the aftermath of the riots in Baltimore earlier this week.

“Here in Southern Maryland, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in the use of heroin and subsequent overdose deaths,” said St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron. “I believe I speak for all Southern Maryland communities when I say we are extremely grateful to have the assistance of Governor Hogan and Lt. Governor Rutherford in combatting this epidemic.”

Drug use, and in particular heroin and opioid abuse, is on the rise in Maryland. In 2013, heroin-related overdose deaths (464) outnumbered homicides (387), a 95% increase in heroin-related overdose deaths since 2010. In addition, preliminary findings for 2014 show overall heroin-related overdose deaths have continued to rise and will outpace those in 2013 by approximately 20 percent. There is growing evidence that many new heroin addictions stem from the abuse of prescription painkillers. Once addicted to these opioids, individuals may switch to increasingly cheap and “available” heroin.

Representatives from the southern Maryland jurisdictions of Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties were present to address the task force. Notable speakers include President of Calvert County Commissioners Steven Weems, President of Charles County Commissioners Peter Murphy, President of St. Mary’s County Commissioners James R. Guy, St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney Rick Fritz, Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans, Calvert County State’s Attorney Laura Martin, Charles County Sheriff Troy D. Berry, and Charles County Deputy State’s Attorney Karen Piper Mitchell.