Harford County must take additional steps toward reducing drug overdoses | READER COMMENTARY
For The Baltimore Sun|
Jan 30, 2020 at 3:23 PM
Recently, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman commented during his 2020 “State of the County” address, “We will not rest, but continue to shine a light on recovery and expand our efforts to help survivors heal and rebuild their lives." He was referring to a 32% drop in fatal opioid overdose deaths in Harford County in 2019 (“County Executive: Harford on upswing, but some uncertainty remains,” Jan. 15). I have some thoughts on recovery and harm reduction in our county.
I was born and raised in Harford. At 15, I took my first — and at 32, I took my last — opioid here. I’ve managed to stay clean for four years working a program of recovery in this county, but recovery is at the end of a long road. What are we doing to protect drug users along this road? How are we helping drug users access resources that can keep them safe, healthy, and alive? A dead drug user can’t recover. We must meet drug users where they are in their lives and say, “You are part of our community and we want you to live.” Compassion can combat the stigma that leads to isolation, shame and death.
The 32% reduction in fatal opioid overdose death shows the effectiveness of distributing Narcan, the opioid overdose reversal drug. I commend the county for this step, but, please, don’t stop there. Narcan is one aspect in a harm reduction model that seeks to steer evidence-based, practical and effective drug programs and policies with compassion and common sense.