Howard County in Maryland is a prosperous county with quiet suburbs, but all demographics that make up the local population are currently fighting a malevolent opioid epidemic. Between 2014 and 2015, twice as much people had died as a result of heroin addiction when compared to the previous year. Just up until late September 2016, heroin addiction has already lead to the death of 23 people in the county. Based on county data, heroin is involved in many local deaths related to an overdose.
Along with heroin, addiction prescription painkillers has also been fueling the nationwide drug epidemic. Almost every county throughout the United States has been witness to a spike in deaths related to heroin addiction. Howard County has been attempting to combat this epidemic, but they still do not have adequate resources to offer long-term treatment and recovery. There is not even a residential detox facility in the county.
There are multiple treatment facilities in the county. However, the end of this year will mark the expiration of the grant that has been operating the sole outpatient clinic for Medicaid and residents who are not insured. Once this clinic shuts down, the 750 people that visit it annually may not have anywhere else to go.
Locals may also seek treatment for substance-abuse disorders from the county’s limited community providers, while new ones are directly required. However, paying these providers with cash is the only option because health insurance is not accepted.
On the other hand, opioids are so readily available within the county and the most frightening fact is that they are even being sold near high schools, so everyone is vulnerable. There is also an educational outreach campaign that includes annual take-back days organized by HC DrugFree to rid local houses of old prescription medication.
The rate of opioid addiction has been rising in Howard County over the past couple of years. Many years ago, the locals did not even prefer to talk about this issue but now it has become a widespread problem that has become a source of concern for all of the county’s residents.
As this point, it is crucial that the right treatment is offered so that long-term recovery becomes possible. There is a detention center in the county where detox treatment and services are available, but it has an extremely limited window of time. However, gaining access to effective and proper treatment requires being at the center for a long period of time, but inmates barely stay there long enough.
Of course, there is also Howard County General Hospital and patients frequently visit its emergency department when they require assistance for substance abuse disorders. Combating the epidemic may also require concentrated and organized effort. Above all, detox and rehab services need to be promptly accessible to the county’s locals.
Even Howard County’s health officials, fire and rescue personnel, and law enforcement is also struggling with breaking the cycle of opioid addiction. For this very reason various local departments have been collaborating and coordinating with each other to directly address this crisis. Even education and outreach is being utilized to prevent this epidemic from spreading further, considering that it has become an issue for everyone.