Gov­er­nor de­clares state of emer­gency

Record Observer - - Opinion -

Gov. Larry Ho­gan has de­clared a state of emer­gency — not be­cause of a re­cent nat­u­ral disaster, but rather due to an epi­demic that is tak­ing lives at an in­creas­ing rate.

Opi­oid over­dose deaths are on the rise not only in Mary­land, but na­tion­ally. The Mary­land Depart­ment of Health and Mental Hy­giene re­ported that from Jan­uary through Septem­ber 2016, num­bers of over­dose fa­tal­i­ties saw a sharp spike com­pared to the pre­vi­ous pe­riod in 2015. Mary­land saw 1,468 fa­tal­i­ties through the third quar­ter of 2016, about a 62 per­cent in­crease from 904 deaths in 2015. In 2010, this fig­ure was 465.

“We need to treat this cri­sis the ex­act same way we would treat any other state emer­gency,” Ho­gan said. “With this con­tin­u­ing threat in­creas­ing at such an alarm­ing rate, we must al­low for rapid co­or­di­na­tion with our state and lo­cal emer­gency teams.”

Ho­gan signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der March 1 call­ing for a state of emer­gency, sim­i­lar to what other ju­ris­dic­tions around the coun­try are do­ing to im­me­di­ately ad­dress the ris­ing heroin and opi­oid use and over­dose is­sues. Many peo­ple who use opi­oids, mainly Fen­tanyl, are ini­tially pre­scribed those med­i­ca­tions due to an ail­ment. When the pre­scrip­tion runs out, the cheaper al­ter­na­tive to the opi­oid ad­dic­tion is heroin. Fen­tanyl is also mixed with heroin to in­crease its po­tency, also in­creas­ing the risk of over­dose.

Ho­gan said he plans to send to the Mary­land Gen­eral Assem­bly a sup­ple­men­tal bud­get re­quest of $50 mil­lion for a five-year plan to fund pro­grams to sup­port law en­force­ment, drug treat­ment and pre­ven­tion ef­forts.

Ho­gan tapped Tal­bot County Emer­gency Ser vices Di­rec­tor Clay Stamp to lead the statewide ef­fort.

Stamp served as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Mary­land Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency in 2015 and is Ho­gan’s se­nior ad­vi­sor for emer­gency man­age­ment.

Peo­ple across the state are dy­ing ev­ery day from heroin and opi­oid ad­dic­tion, Stamp said.

“The other light­bulb mo­ment for me was the other day. I was get­ting in my county car, the fire ra­dio went off and alerted for a 28-year-old over­dose vic­tim, and the per­son died,” Stamp said. “This started to feel like rou­tine to me, be­cause I was hear­ing it reg­u­larly, and it just struck me that we really have a prob­lem here.”

This an­nounce­ment shows the gov­er­nor is tak­ing the epi­demic se­ri­ously, as we all should. As pri­vate cit­i­zens, we should be look­ing to sup­port those with these ad­dic­tions and do our best to steer them to­ward help, be­fore, at the very least, they wind up in a jail cell, or, much worse, dead.

Those who be­come ad­dicted to these sub­stances of­ten rob friends, fam­ily and strangers to sup­port their habit, be it rum­mag­ing through an un­locked car look­ing for loose change, to bur­gling a neigh­bor’s home look­ing for pills or cash or valu­ables to pawn. The ad­dic­tion just doesn’t af­fect that per­son: It has the po­ten­tial to af­fect any of us caught on the pe­ripher y of the ad­dict.

Ho­gan’s an­nounce­ment was a welcome boost to the on­go­ing up­hill bat­tle. More steps need to be made at all lev­els of gov­ern­ment. This is a very real prob­lem we all should be find­ing ways to com­bat.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.