How to end the drug over­dose epi­demic

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE - Bob Ko­zloski, Fred­er­ick

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.

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