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Prescription opioids have changed the drug crisis | READER COMMENTARY

In this Feb. 19, 2013, file photo, OxyContin pills are examined at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vermont. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, file)
In this Feb. 19, 2013, file photo, OxyContin pills are examined at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vermont. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, file) (Toby Talbot/AP)

I am writing to express my appreciation for your article on the changing nature of the drug problem — locally and nationally (”Maryland deaths from prescription opioids could outpace those caused by heroin for first time in 10 years,” Sept. 20). We are, indeed, seeing a crushing increase in prescription opioid overdoses with devastating effects to our families and communities.

The Center for Drug Policy and Prevention in The University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs is responsible for administering federal funds from the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Combating Overdose Through Community-level Intervention Initiative. Organizations applying for and receiving this funding must focus on addressing opioid-involved overdoses or overdoses involving stimulants or poly-drug overdose reduction in the regions of the United States with the highest rates of fatal and non-fatal overdoses. They must use evidence-based or promising approaches to implement or enhance new or ongoing community-based programs and, of course, they must evaluate their efforts to assess their efficacy in reducing overdoses and other harms associated with drug misuse.

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Importantly, the funding must be used to support and promote collaboration between public safety and public health agencies to ensure overdose efforts are aligned in a comprehensive and coordinated response.

Applications for the initiative will be accepted through Nov. 1. We look forward to funding innovative and effective programs across the country, but especially in Baltimore, that are designed to reduce the loss of life from drug overdose. Interested organizations, including local government agencies, public and private universities, advocacy organizations and nonprofits may get more information on applying online.

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We believe the only way through this crisis is to work together.

Thomas H. Carr, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the University of Baltimore’s Center for Drug Policy and Prevention.

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