Howard County opioid overdose cases increase from 2016, police say

Howard County police say opioid overdoses, including non-fatal and fatal cases, have increased in the past year, including three reports over the weekend.

One fatal and two non-fatal opioid overdoses were reported between Oct. 20 and 22, police said. This year, police have responded to 138 non-fatal and 43 fatal opioid overdoses in the county — up from 133 non-fatal and 29 fatal reports in 2016.

“These reports come from all areas of the county,” said Sherry Llewellyn, spokeswoman for the Howard County police department.

Llewellyn said reports may fluctuate since some “suspected” cases await lab and medical examiner reports for confirmation. Morphine and oxycodone and heroin are some opioid or opioid-based drugs reported.

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is administered in almost all non-fatal cases, Llewellyn said. While opioids can slow or stop someone’s breathing, the potentially life-saving drug reverses the affects of an overdose.

Narcan, which was used in 93 percent of the county’s opioid overdose cases in 2017, cannot be used to get high and is not addictive, health officials said.

Howard County’s Health Department, Office of Emergency Management and other local agencies continue to combat the growing opioid epidemic through programs and workshops, such as the Health Department’s free Opioid Overdose Response program training sessions. At the sessions, county residents ages 18 or older can learn about the types of opioids; how to recognize, respond and prevent an overdose with Narcan; proper prescription use; and additional resources for those who may be addicted.

Call 410-313-6202 to register for the county health department’s opioid response training. To find help for those struggling with opioid use, call Maryland’s Crisis Hotline at 800-422-0009.

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