In the latest round of state grants to battle Maryland’s opioid abuse epidemic, Harford County received $170,000 which will be used to establish a 24/7 phone help line and replenish supplies of naloxone used by EMS first responders and police to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.
The bulk of the state funding, $140,000, will be used for the phone line that will be managed and staffed by people trained to provide support and help to people with addiction issues. A private contractor will run the line, according to the Harford County Health Department.
The phone line and having enough naloxone on hand are certainly necessary in the county’s fight against the opioid abuse epidemic. But as has been the case with past grants, as well as local dedicated funding set aside annually, the cumulative amount is still well short of what is needed.
That’s nobody’s fault, but it’s also reality. Thousands of Maryland residents are caught up in the opioid addiction cycle, and there’s not enough money – public or private – to ensure they get clean and stay clean, if that’s even possible.
The latest state funding was procured and is being administrated by Harford County’s Opioid Operational Command Center Senior Policy Group, chaired by the Interim Health Officer Dr. Russell Moy and co-led by county Department of Emergency Services Director Edward Hopkins.
Speaking for the group in a statement released last week, Hopkins said: “Our goal is to reduce overdose deaths by 20 percent and we hope this is an effort in the right direction.”
With this year’s death toll closing in on 70 and still more than two months left, that’s a pretty tall order.
Having a phone line where folks consumed by opioids, or their friends, family and co-workers, can call any time, day or night, to seek help or just to have an understanding voice on the other end to talk with can definitely help save lives. Even if it saves just one, the line will be money well spent.