How to end the drug overdose epidemic
With the support of elected officials in Annapolis, we have made great strides toward improving the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program per the recommendations of Gov. Larry Hogan’s task force on opiate addiction and overdoses. But we need to do more.
The state and advocacy groups need the public’s help to address this problem. Since the death of my son from prescription pills, I have been pressing for greater public awareness of the opioid epidemic, along with educational, training and recovery programs to address it. All these efforts are urgently needed because there is no single silver bullet that will solve this problem.
We need to focus on how people become addicted to heroin and other opiates through the overuse of prescription pain medications. With the introduction of the anti-overdose drug naloxone, we have reduced overdose deaths, but the number of people becoming addicted to opiates and their risk of overdosing are still increasing.
We urge citizens to contact their representatives and urge them to support legislation that would toughen the criminal penalties for drug dealers and physicians who prescribe opioid medications that contribute to the overdose death of a customer or patient. For the first time, authorities in Washington County have charged a drug dealer with manslaughter in connection with the overdose death of a customer.
Lawmakers in Maryland should approve a bill like New Jersey’s “Strict Liability for Drug-Induced Deaths” legislation, which imposes criminal penalties on drug dealers and doctors who contribute to overdose deaths. The state also needs to enact tougher regulations on electronic prescriptions, as New York has done. Both these measures would give us additional tools in the fight against overdose deaths.