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Keyword: overdose

 Baltimore County Officials Will Recognize National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

On Saturday, October 26, Baltimore County officials will recognize National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, a nationwide initiative organized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to highlight safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs in communities, while raising awareness about the disease of prescription drug addiction.

On National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, residents are encouraged to safely dispose of out unwanted or expired medications, including prescription opioids, such as Percocet, OxyContin or Vicodin, at predetermined, approved locations. The full list of approved sites is available at takebackday.dea.gov

We Have a Moral Imperative

“Each overdose death means the loss of a son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, neighbor and friend. We have a moral imperative to do everything within our power to respond to this devastating epidemic,” County Executive Olszewski said. “This day—and every day—is take back day in Baltimore County and we urge residents to dispose of their medications and help save lives.”

Rates of prescription drug misuse have been steadily increasing. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. Removing the presence of unwanted or unused prescription medications from the home helps ensure the safety of family and friends.

Year-round Prescription Return Boxes

Baltimore County has also introduced permanent, year-round prescription return boxes at 10 locations throughout the county to allow individuals to safely and anonymously return any expired or unused medication—with no questions asked. The drug drop boxes are located at:

  • Baltimore County Police Baltimore County Police Precinct 1 Wilkens - 901 Walker Avenue, 21228 
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 2 Woodlawn - 6424 Windsor Mill Road, 21207
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct  3 Franklin - 606 Nicodemus Road, 21136 
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 4 Pikesville - 215 Milford Mill Road, 21208
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 6 Towson - 115 W. Susquehanna Avenue, 21204  
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 7 Cockeysville - 111 Wight Avenue, 21030 
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 8 Parkville - 8532 Old Harford Road, 21234
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 9 White Marsh - 8220 Perry Hall Boulevard, 21236
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 11 Essex - 216 North Marlyn Avenue, 21221 
  • Baltimore County Police Precinct 12 Dundalk – 428 Westham Way, 21224 

“I urge parents and guardians to take inventory of their medicine cabinet and secure all medications that are genuinely needed,” said Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Director of the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services. “When we don’t take these necessary precautions, we could inadvertently open the gateway to addiction.”

Statistics and Efforts

Baltimore County has the second highest number of overdose deaths in the state—in 2018, 348 people died from opioid-related overdoses, up from 323 in 2017.

The Olszewski Administration has made efforts to combat the opioid epidemic a priority including: 

  • Announcing the placement of overdose awareness signs around the County in an effort to shine light on the opioid epidemic and reduce the stigma often associated with the disease of addiction;
  • Appointing Baltimore County’s first Opioid Strategy Coordinator to spearhead efforts to address the crisis across the government; and
  • Convening the Baltimore County Opioid Response Working Group, who recently released its draft report (PDF), outlining 11 recommendations as the County continues its efforts to combat overdose deaths, expand access to treatment and prevent addiction.

“The impact of opioid abuse in our communities is significant. This day reminds all of us to reduce the possibility of our unused medication harming our family members or anyone else,” Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa R. Hyatt said.

CVS Plays an Active Role

CVS Health plays an active role nationally and locally in supporting safe medication disposal. This week, the company announced that all CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide will offer customers a free safe medication disposal option, beginning in 2020. The company will add 1,000 in-store safe medication disposal units to the more than 1,700 units currently in CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide, including in Baltimore County. It will also donate up to 400 additional units to local police departments across the country, in addition to the more than 990 units already donated to law enforcement. Together, the existing medication disposal units have collected more than 1.1 million pounds of unwanted or expired medications. 

Additionally, beginning next year, all CVS Pharmacy locations that do not offer a safe medication disposal kiosk will begin to offer DisposeRx® packets at no cost to patients filling an opioid prescription for the first time.

“Our Safe Medication Disposal efforts allow people to easily get rid of unneeded medications—including controlled substances—at CVS Pharmacy and other locations in their community, getting opioids out of medicine cabinets where they could be diverted or misused,” said Thomas Moriarty, Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer, CVS Health. “Providing more options for proper disposal of unused medications in our stores and in the home is just one of the ways we're working to help combat prescription opioid misuse and build healthier communities.”

“We’re proud to link arms with community leaders and local law enforcement to safeguard the health and well-being of our neighbors,” said Thomas B. Smyth, president and CEO of University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. “Our fervent hope is that, by making these designated safe drop boxes available to the community-at-large, we are helping area families avoid the physical trauma and the heartache associated with opioid overdose. One more overdose death is one more too many. We are called to help ‘Take Back’ our community’s health.”

If you or a loved one is suffering from an alcohol, tobacco or drug addiction, help is available. Call the Department of Health at 410-88-REACH (410-887-3224).


Signs Around the County Aim to Raise Awareness and Reduce Stigma

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced the placement of overdose awareness signs around the County in an effort to shine light on the opioid epidemic and reduce the stigma often associated with addiction. Strategically placed in five, high-visibility locations around the County, the signs will display the total number of overdoses and fatal overdoses in the County so far this year.

Photo of Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski speaking

“There’s not a community in our County that hasn’t been touched by the disease of opioid addiction and we have to do everything within our power to raise awareness, increase access to services and save lives. These signs will be a stark reminder that this crisis persists and that we have a responsibility to help our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, neighbors and friends who are struggling,” Olszewski said.

About the Daniel Carl Torsch Foundation

Photo of the overdose awareness sign

The signs were created with support from the Daniel Carl Torsch Foundation and sponsors identified by foundation Executive Director Toni Torsch. Torsch created the foundation following the death of her son, Daniel, from a heroin overdose. The foundation works to raise awareness of opioid addiction and overdose, helps individuals find treatment resources and provides training for individuals to use the overdose-reversal drug naloxone.

“I applaud the Torsch Foundation for partnering with the County to provide awareness and education of overdose death statistics,” said Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Director of the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services. “Anyone who is facing an opioid addiction or knows someone who is, should reach out and prevent another untimely death by calling our REACH Helpline, 410-88-REACH (410-887-3224).”

Combating the Opioid Epidemic

A medium shot photo of Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski speaking

Each month, the Baltimore County Police Department will update the numbers displayed on the signs, which will be located at the Public Safety Building in Towson, as well as the Dundalk, Pikesville, White Marsh and Woodlawn precinct buildings.

"In my very first meeting with newly-elected County Executive Olszewski, I asked for help breaking a bureaucratic logjam that prevented these signs from going up. He delivered. This is one part of a more robust strategy toward reducing and eliminating opioid abuse," said Councilman David Marks.

Olszewski has taken a number of critical steps in the effort to combat the opioid epidemic. As recommended by his transition team, he included funds in his first budget to create an Opioid Strategy Coordinator position to guide strategy across agencies and ensure a cohesive, comprehensive response.

In addition, he named an Opioid Response Working Group to engage County residents and stakeholders, examine data, assess the County’s current efforts and make recommendations for how the County can continue to ramp up its efforts to address addiction and overdose. The working group will release its draft report for public comment in the coming weeks.

Learn more about the County’s response to the opioid epidemic.


Emergency Room Staff, Certified Peer Counselors and Naloxone: Working Together to Save Lives

As part of a multi-pronged approach to stem the tide of opioid overdose deaths, the Baltimore County Department of Health and elected officials provided naloxone to four Baltimore County hospitals today. Greater Baltimore Medical Center, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, Northwest Hospital and University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center each received approximately 1,200 doses of the medication to distribute to high risk patients being discharged from the hospitals. 

“Naloxone saves lives but only if it is available on the spot, in the moment it is needed,” said Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler. “This important partnership with our hospitals means we empower their peer support counselors to get this life-saving medication into the hands of family and friends who can save the lives of their loved ones.”

Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services presented the hospitals with a supply of NARCAN® (an intra-nasal brand of naloxone) calling it the drug of second chances. “Naloxone works! We know that this drug saves lives when administered in time,” said Dr. Branch. “Making it available in our local emergency rooms can mean giving someone a second chance to change their life trajectory.”

“We are honored to team with Baltimore County in our commitment to reduce opioid deaths,” said Sandy Winfield, MS, FACHE, vice president of Clinical and Support Services at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. “We are grateful for this generous donation that unfortunately, has become vitally important to the cause.”

“I strongly believe that by working together, community hospitals and our county government can make a serious impact,” said Jeffrey P. Sternlicht, MD, FACEP, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center. “We are proud to be a part of this collaborative effort to provide the delivery of this life-saving medication and to help those that are struggling with their addiction.”

Providing naloxone to the four Baltimore County hospitals is just one of the ways the Department of Health is working to reduce the number of deaths caused by opioid overdose. The County has also increased the number of certified peer recovery specialists who focus on helping others to break the grip of addiction. These peer recovery specialists will work with others connected with the four hospitals to provide support, resources and services to people in the community as well as those who have been treated in local emergency rooms for addiction-related issues.   

Distribution of naloxone is also a part of ongoing training sessions that occur across Baltimore County each month. These free, two-hour sessions provide education to the community about the dangers of illicit opioid use, available resources for those in need of services, and instructions on how to effectively administer the drug to reverse an opioid overdose.

Visit www.baltimorecountymd.gov/odresponse or call 410-887-3224 for a listing of upcoming training dates and locations.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017