xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Maryland must double down on overdose prevention | READER COMMENTARY

Signs for syringe returns are shown Saturday, March 6, 2021, at a nonprofit group's health fair in Charleston, West Virginia. For years, West Virginia has had the nation's highest rate of drug overdose deaths. Now the state is wrestling with another, not entirely unrelated health emergency: a spike in HIV cases related to intravenous drug use. (Chad Cordell via AP)
Signs for syringe returns are shown Saturday, March 6, 2021, at a nonprofit group's health fair in Charleston, West Virginia. For years, West Virginia has had the nation's highest rate of drug overdose deaths. Now the state is wrestling with another, not entirely unrelated health emergency: a spike in HIV cases related to intravenous drug use. (Chad Cordell via AP) (Chad Cordell/AP)

Thank you for your front page coverage of Gov. Larry Hogan’s Opioid Operational Command Center report (“Number of fatal overdoses in state up in 2020,” April 14). As a volunteer at Voices of Hope in Cecil County and Addiction Connections Resource in Harford County, I listen to and speak with people and families every day whose lives and futures are being ravaged by substance use disorders.

Sadly, the dual epidemics of COVID-19 and overdose cases continue to wreak havoc, despair and death across Maryland. The 2,499 opioid-related Maryland deaths in 2020 set a record, as did the 87,203 deaths nationally for the first nine months of 2020, as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Advertisement

The COVID-19 epidemic is starting to dissipate thanks to the vaccines. Substance use disorder has neither a warp speed initiative, nor a vaccine. In fact, it appears as if COVID-19 has made the drug overdose crisis worse.

There are, however, some signs of hope. President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan has $4.5 billion for substance use disorder and mental health services. A $26 billion settlement of the Sackler family’s opioid pharmaceutical lawsuits will bring new funds to the state and local government plaintiffs in Maryland.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Your article cites an American Medical Association report that Maryland must do more to reduce and reverse the drug overdose epidemic. Much has been done including wider accessibility of the lifesaving drug naloxone and current state funding for prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and services.

Yet, as some of the experts in your article emphasize, we need to better understand and promote harm reduction — programs that help reduce risk as pathways to a more sustainable recovery. Policymakers, treatment providers and recovery community organizations need to redouble their efforts to determine new evidence-based practices to reduce drug overdoses.

Don Mathis, Havre de Grace

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement