Message from Secretary Van T. Mitchell

Earlier this week the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released the overdose death numbers for the second quarter of 2016. From January to June, Maryland saw 920 deaths related to overdose, 319 more than this point last year. The department has worked diligently to raise awareness about the issue and implement programs to fight substance use disorder and the opioid epidemic.

Most recently, we filmed a public service announcement in partnership with Maryland Public Television that is being broadcast on stations in Maryland. You can view the short video here. The PSAs are the latest tactic in this fight to raise awareness. Our department’s push to combat substance use disorder and overdose encompasses multiple administrations:

  • We have made naloxone available without a prescription to anyone trained and certified under the Department’s Overdose Response Program,
  • we have made posts about finding treatment supports a regular feature of our social media accounts’ messaging,
  • we are establishing a statewide Syringe Services Programs to collect used syringes and provide users with clean equipment to avoid infectious disease,
  • we have adopted the Good Samaritan Law to shield from arrest and prosecution anyone attempting to save the life of an overdose victim,
  • we have co­sponsored a 2015 prescriber­education seminar geared toward training providers in managing their patients’ chronic pain in ways to not facilitate addiction to opioids,
  • in Behavioral Health, we have expanded access to an evidence­based tool designed to identify individuals who have the potential for substance abuse and to whom we can provide medical intervention,
  • we have created the Overdose Survivors Outreach Program, and
  • we have instituted a Medicaid initiative that will prioritize the role of counseling to Marylanders by facilities that provide Medicine Assisted Treatment.

Working in collaboration with federal, state and local partners to try to reduce overdoses, we want to make sure Marylanders know that – if they are grappling with substance use disorder and are taking illicit substances – they are on the path toward overdose, possibly death, and they need to seek treatment right away.

Additional information

Additional information on overdose prevention can be found at MdDestinationRecovery.org or by calling 1-800-422-0009.