Tim Weber knows from his own experience heroin overdose victims have a short window of time in which they will accept offered help.
To discourage relapse, the Carroll County State's Attorney's Office has created "Stamp Out Heroin" cards — which feature a guide to treatment resources — for distribution to members of the community who have suffered overdoses. The cards encourage those "overdosed, tired and ready for change" to contact the Overdose Response Team for a ride to a safe place or to simply ask for help.
"The idea is to catch someone at the right time. The people who might be more [receptive] to help are people who have overdosed for the first time and are scared," said Weber, the Drug Treatment and Education Liaison for the state's attorneys office.
Cards have been delivered to Carroll Hospital and the Carroll County Sherriff's Office, where staff will distribute the cards to overdose victims, according to Weber. He also expects to deliver them to first responders.
Weber said he hopes overdose victims will receive the cards before they become ill from the lack of heroin and feel the need to use again.
"It's about trying to connect them with the right resources," said Weber, a former addict himself who founded Weber Addiction Group and Weber Sober Homes in Carroll. "It helps to have someone to talk to that has been through it."
Weber said the cards are part of State's Attorney Brian DeLeonardo's strategy to combat a substantial increase in fatal drug overdoses.
Heroin overdose deaths in Carroll County have increased sharply beginning in 2012, according to a news release from the state's attorney's office. Thirteen people died in the county from overdoses in 2012; 14 died in 2013; and nine died in the first six months of 2014, according to the most recent statistics from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
"This is one step, but an important one, that our office is taking to proactively attack the tide of drug overdoses in Carroll County," State's Attorney Brian DeLeonardo said in a prepared release. "There is simply no doubt that less addicts lead to fewer future victims of crime."
Deputy State's Attorney Edward Coyne said another part of the plan came to fruition in June when the Carroll County Board of Commissioners established a drug treatment and education liaison position for the State's Attorney's Office and appointed Weber to fill the role.
DeLeonardo immediately assigned Weber to create a network of people from those in the recovery community who can assist those experiencing an overdose with pursuing drug treatment, Coyne said.
"There's a small window of time when people who have overdosed are receptive to help. The cards are critical to reach them as close to the overdose as possible," Coyne said.
During the last three months, Weber and the Overdose Response Team have been regularly providing outreach to those who have overdosed to link them to treatment resources. He said they've gotten referrals largely by word of mouth so far.
"I get calls every day that have to do with trying to help someone get into treatment," Weber said. "It might not be an overdose situation. We've had a few calls from family members hoping to get their sons or daughters into treatment. That's why I'm sure the cards will help our community."
How to contact the Overdose Response Center:
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410-386-2163 or 443-547-516