Skip Navigation

Image of the Baltimore County Historic Courthouse

Baltimore County News

Stay informed of what's happening in Baltimore County.
Keyword: opioid

Outlines Key Recommendations to Accelerate the County’s Response to the Opioid Epidemic

The Opioid Response Working Group convened by County Executive Johnny Olszewski today released its draft report (PDF), which identifies 11 recommendations the County should consider as it continues its efforts to combat overdose deaths, expand access to treatment and prevent addiction.

The recommendations fall into seven categories, including:

  1. Stigma
  2. Prevention
  3. Treatment
  4. Recovery
  5. Family support
  6. Criminal justice
  7. Harm reduction

The draft report and link to the public comment survey are available online. Members of the public have the opportunity to provide feedback on the recommendations until Wednesday, October 2, and a final report will follow.

On Track for Fewer Overdose Deaths

“I’m encouraged that numbers so far this year show that we’re on track for fewer overdose deaths, but every overdose death means the loss of a son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, neighbor and friend. We have a moral obligation to direct our resources toward evidence-based strategies that will save lives and help people overcome the disease of addiction,” Olszewski said. “I’m grateful to the Working Group members for their efforts thus far and I look forward to hearing the public’s response to the proposed recommendations.”

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. Olszewski’s Transition Team made a number of recommendations (PDF) related to tackling the opioid epidemic, including the appointment of an Opioid Strategy Coordinator to spearhead efforts to address the crisis across the government.

About the Opioid Response Working Group

The Opioid Response Working Group was announced in May, and the group gathered public input through an online survey and two public meetings, as well as information from experts and stakeholders.

“The working group members were delighted to serve and are very grateful to the members of the public who came forward with their insights,” said John Chessare, President and CEO of GMBC HealthCare and chair of the Opioid Response Working Group. “We look forward to working with the County in implementing the recommendations to further reduce opioid addiction and its effects on our community.”

The Working Group has received technical support from staff at the Baltimore County Department of Health, and faculty and students at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with support from the Bloomberg American Health Initiative.


"Just in Time" Database to Be Used by the Departments of Health, Police, Fire and Corrections.

The Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) received a $2.6 million federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to address the opioid epidemic in Baltimore County, with the possibility to receive subsequent funding. Initial grant funds will support the development of a “Just In Time” database to be used by the Departments of Health, Police, Fire and Corrections, who are on the frontlines of responding to substance abuse disorders and fatal and nonfatal opioid overdoses.

“The opioid epidemic affects every corner of our county, and an effective response requires all of our agencies to work together. This generous grant from the CDC elevates countywide coordination and response regarding prevention, intervention, enforcement and protection efforts,” said Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski, Jr.

“These funds will help Baltimore fight against the opioid epidemic, providing the County with crucial data to help monitor its efforts and improve their response. Combating this scourge requires an all-hands-on-deck approach – we must keep working together at the local, state and federal level to address this public health crisis,” said U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md).

The “Just In Time” database, the project’s centerpiece, supports surveillance and prevention efforts of Health and Human Services and public safety agencies. “This CDC grant is vital in affording the availability of real-time data such as location and demographics, resulting in lifesaving outcomes for Baltimore County residents,” said Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Director and Health Officer.

Information in the database will be used to increase provider knowledge of safe opioid prescribing practices and increase linkage to care for individuals at-risk, including targeting high-risk populations such as substance exposed newborns. Data analysis will help to identify trends and areas of greatest need; recommend prevention activities and enable multi-agency first responders to more efficiently determine necessary steps, including automatic referral for peer services.

The Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) promotes well-being among individuals and families by providing quality health, housing and social services. Along with an administrative unit, HHS is comprised of the Departments of Health and Social Services.


Drug Drop Boxes are Conveniently Located in all Baltimore County Police Precincts

You know how important it is to read the label on your prescription medication and to take it only as directed. But are you also aware of how important it is to properly dispose of medications that you are no longer using? Unused prescription drugs can find their way into the wrong hands – with dangerous and oftentimes tragic consequences.

To help bring attention to this crucial public safety and public health issue, the Baltimore County Department of Health is promoting the national Prescription Drug Take Back Day (Saturday, April 28, 2018) and are reminding county residents that there are Drug Drop Box Locations in police precincts throughout Baltimore County. While the national observance will occur on April 28, Baltimore residents are able to place their expired and unused prescriptions in drug drop boxes throughout the county year round - 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs – the majority of which were obtained directly from family and friends or by having access to the home medicine cabinets of family and friends. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a safe, convenient and responsible way to clean out your medicine cabinets and dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs and perhaps help prevent drug addiction and potential overdose deaths.

In addition to taking your unused medications to a drug drop box location, you may also dispose of them at home if no specific disposal instructions are given on the prescription drug labeling. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Remove the medicine from its original container and mix it with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or used kitty litter.
  2. Place the mixture in a sealable bag or container to prevent medicine from leaking out.
  3. Place the sealed bag or container in with your household trash.

Don’t forget to scratch out all identifying information on the prescription drug container to make it unreadable. This will help to protect your identity and maintain the privacy of your personal health information. 

By Gregory Wm. Branch, M.D. 
Director of Health and Human Services


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017