Maryland Governor Declares State of Emergency on Opioids
by CHHS Research Assitant Faiza Hasan
Governor Larry Hogan announced on March 1, 2016 a state of emergency for opioids, amidst escalating overdose deaths in Maryland and nationwide. The state of emergency is an instrument many jurisdictions use to coordinate anti-opioid and heroin strategies. Hogan, who lost a cousin to addiction years ago, commented at a news conference at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency that “we need to treat this crisis the exact same way we treat any other state emergency,” He further commented that we need to take an “all-hands-on deck” approach so that everyone can work together to save the lives of thousands of Marylanders.
One result of the order is an increase of $10 million in new funding each year to allow flexibility in addressing the heroin and opioid crisis in Maryland. It will allow local agencies to cut through “red tape” with greater flexibility for prevention, treatment and enforcement efforts.
Opioid overdosing is a national epidemic; however, the numbers in Maryland are just as staggering. Heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, killed 1,468 Maryland residents in the first nine months of 2016 (up 62 percent from the same period in 2015) according to state data. Many of those who overdosed initially abused prescription painkillers and other opioids. Governor Hogan says the state of emergency is a direct result of initial findings of a command center in the administration created in January to facilitate greater collaboration among state agencies. Hogan also announced a list of measures in January to address overdose deaths, including a bill to put limits on how many opiate painkillers doctors could prescribe to patients on initial consultations. Hogan’s plan is to keep building on these measures to ensure that addiction and overdose deaths are significantly lessened in 2017.