— Governor Wes Moore yesterday signed an executive order
establishing Maryland’s Office of Overdose Response within the Maryland Department of Health. The office will coordinate and promote efforts across state agencies to address the overdose crisis in Maryland. The governor was joined by Lt. Governor Aruna Miller; Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Dr. Rahul Gupta; Maryland Department of Health Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health Alyssa Lord; and Special Secretary of Overdose Response Emily Keller.
“The opioid and overdose crisis is constantly evolving and it is imperative that our efforts to prevent overdoses and save lives remain nimble and reflect the challenges facing our communities,” said Gov. Moore.
“We are focused on expanding pathways to compassionate care for individuals, whether they are actively using drugs or are on the road to recovery. Building communities that can thrive requires ensuring that all Marylanders, regardless of where they come from or where they are, can access the support they need.”
Special Secretary Keller will oversee the office, which was formerly known as the Opioid Operational Command Center. The executive order also establishes the Maryland Overdose Response Advisory Council, which will take the place of the former Inter-Agency Heroin and Opioid Coordinating Council. The council will be chaired by Lt. Gov. Miller and will include participation from 18 state government agencies and offices to promote data sharing and develop strategic guidance for increasing access to substance use care and addressing disparities in overdose outcomes.
“We are approaching this crisis first and foremost as a public health issue and we recognize that we need everyone to have a seat at the table,” said Lt. Gov. Miller.
“Substance use affects nearly all aspects of a person’s life, and we need partners – from public health to public safety, education, and social services – to be a part of the solution so that we can reach people who are at risk of overdose wherever they may be in their lives.”
Five key policy pillars will guide the Moore-Miller Administration's approach to reducing overdoses: prevention, harm reduction, treatment, recovery, and public safety. Maryland’s Office of Overdose Response will create a comprehensive strategic plan to advance policies and programs addressing the state’s most pressing needs. The process will include collecting feedback from subject matter experts with state and local agencies, the research community, community partners, and the general public.
“President Biden made beating the overdose epidemic a key pillar of his Unity Agenda because it’s an issue where all Americans – including leaders at every level of government – can come together and make progress for the nation. Strong partnerships between state and federal government are critical in our efforts to address this crisis, and I am grateful for the leadership of Governor Moore and Lieutenant Governor Miller as they work to strengthen both public health and public safety efforts in Maryland with the new Office of Overdose Response,” said Director of National Drug Control Policy Dr. Rahul Gupta.
“This issue is a top priority of the Biden-Harris Administration, and we will continue working tirelessly to ensure that states have the resources and tools they need to address the overdose epidemic and save lives.”
“Maryland has been a national leader in building a framework to address the overdose crisis, and we have to make sure we stay ahead of the curve,” said Special Secretary of Overdose Response Emily Keller.
“Our office is working to increase collaboration across all state and local agencies to advance the most effective strategies that can save lives and promote success in recovery. The administration’s priorities ensure that we are working to address substance use from all angles.”
Marylanders are encouraged to visit StopOverdose.maryland.gov
to learn more about how the state is addressing the overdose crisis and find resources that can help support individuals who may be struggling with substance use, including information about fentanyl, how to find the overdose-reversing medicine naloxone, and information about Maryland’s Good Samaritan law, which protects individuals who call 911 for help responding to an overdose.
“Yesterday’s announcement advances the Moore-Miller administration's commitment to leaving no one behind and providing the necessary services and care to those who need it,” said Maryland Department of Health Behavioral Health Administration Deputy Secretary Alyssa Lord.
“These changes strengthen the cooperation and communication required to provide better outcomes for more Marylanders. We look forward to working with our federal and state partners to continue expanding our efforts to save lives together.”
Marylanders who are struggling with substance use are encouraged to call or text 988
to reach the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and get connected to substance use and behavioral health resources.