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The Latest on the Opioid Crisis in Montgomery County; Efforts Include Expanded Naloxone Training and Streamlined Treatment Options

For Immediate Release: Friday, October 18, 2019

County Executive Marc Elrich was joined today by the County’s Opioid Intervention Team (OIT) to provide an update on progress the County has made in addressing the opioid crisis in Montgomery County.   Members of the OIT included Co-chairs Department of Health and Human Services Director Raymond Crowel and Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director Earl Stoddard; as well as Fire Chief Scott Goldstein, Acting Police Chief Marcus Jones, State’s Attorney John J. McCarthy, and County Sheriff Darren Popkin.  Both County and community-based providers and advocates serve on the OIT. 

Latest data shows that there have been 49 overdose deaths to-date this year and 320 non-fatal overdoses since January.  In Sept. 2019, there were seven overdose deaths and 38 lives saved through the use of Naloxone, an overdose reversal drug. 

“Montgomery County, along with every county in Maryland, has too many overdose deaths and individuals who are addicted,” said Elrich.  “We need to tackle the problem from many angles and the OIT has directed resources towards prevention, education, and treatment.  No family should experience the overdose death of a loved one.” 

A key component of the local effort has been focused on making Naloxone readily available in the community.  During fiscal year 2019 (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019), more than 1,500 residents attended free Naloxone training and nearly 2,500 free Naloxone kits, which include two doses, were distributed through classes and community events.  A calendar of training events is available online.  

Engaging individuals who are addicted, at the time of an overdose, is a key strategy to increase the possibility that they will seek treatment.  The County’s STEER (Stop, Engage, Educate and Rehabilitate) team is staffed by peer recovery specialists who respond to hospital emergency rooms and other community locations at the time of an overdose.  They are available 24/7.  The goal is to work with the individual who overdosed and give them one-on-one help to get into treatment.  STEER was launched in July 2018, and 444 individuals (through June 2019) were referred for help.  Peer recovery specialists continue to build partnerships with hospital staff and strengthen referral mechanisms. 

“MCFRS is honored to be an integral partner in the Montgomery County approach and team to support our community with this critical public health issue,” said Goldstein.  “We provide near, real-time incident information to Health and Human Services on suspected overdose calls which enables the STEER program counselors to engage and help the patient and the impacted family.” 

 “Having experienced 18 overdoses that required Narcan revival, my willingness to become unbroken had to be present and the resources readily available,” said Jacqueline Fleming, a recovering opioid user. 

 “The opiate epidemic is a public health crisis that should be addressed as such, addressing public education, early intervention and long-term treatment for those suffering from addiction,” said McCarthy. 

A new website—KnowTheRisksMC.org—includes information on treatment options and support groups, as well as information about safe prescription drug disposal and the latest County data. 

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Release ID: 19-343
Media Contact: Mary Anderson 240-777-6534