Awareness campaigns and the increased usage of Naloxone assisted in reducing the number of opioid related deaths on the Lower Shore in 2017.
No one can deny this is good news, but it doesn’t mean we are sufficiently addressing the problem. Saving a life today is only the first step.
Gov. Larry Hogan emphasized this in his recent address to Congress. Following up with immediate access to detox and recovery services is crucial to ensure hope for meaningful recovery.
Area services remain critically insufficient to meet the need for detox and addictions recovery treatment. The Opiate Freedom Center estimates a person suffering from opioid addiction will go through withdrawal between 10 and 25 times.
Currently, the only 24/7 detox facility available in Wicomico County is the county detention center.
The Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort and Treatment Act of 2017 mandated an increased commitment of funds and services to fight the epidemic.
However, many of these funds will not be allocated until the 2019 fiscal year -- and will be distributed to counties based on population.
The Behavioral Health Administration was directed to open more facilities to provide crisis services, but is only required to open one by June 1. It is unclear when others will open — and it’s a safe bet few, if any, will be based on the Lower Shore.
All of this translates to a continued underfunding and underdevelopment of a comprehensive plan to fight the epidemic here.
Until we call on our legislators to adequately provide resources to address the problem, we will continue to lose our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and loved ones to this terrible disease.
Melanie Craig is a master's of social work student at Salisbury University.