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New Council To Address Drug Overdoses In Md. Head-On

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Fighting a deadly problem. Governor Martin O’Malley recently signed an executive order in a push to prevent the growing number of drug overdoses in Maryland. It’s a problem getting out of control.

Marcus Washington reports the governor plans to make a huge stride within the year.

Within the first three months of the year, there were more overdose deaths in Maryland than traffic-related deaths. It’s a growing problem many say has to be attacked quickly.

From pain pills to deadly narcotics, overdoses in Maryland are getting attention from the top seat of the state — Governor Martin O’Malley.

From January to March of 2014, there were 252 overdose deaths reported in the state.

“Showing that there has been a 33 percent increase in the number of people who have died from drug overdose in Maryland this year compared to last year,” said Joshua Sharfstein, Maryland’s Department of Mental Health and Hygiene.

That number is sure to increase as more people turn to the cheaper and more readily available drug heroin.

“Heroin in Maryland is increasingly laced with another drug called fentanyl, which is highly potent and is even easier to die from an overdose on than heroin,” Sharfstein said.

Heroin was admittedly the drug of choice for Nicole Sesker, the stepdaughter of former police commissioner Leonard Hamm, before her murder in 2008.

“It’s not even about taking it one day at a time, it’s about taking it one second at a time.”

With Governor O’Malley’s recent executive order, an overdose prevention council is being established to address the serious issue head-on, with hopes of a 20 percent decline by 2015.

“That includes understanding where the overdoses are, how people wind up overdosing and trying to target law enforcement and treatment resources to those particular areas,” said Sharfstein.

Maryland’s Department of Mental Health and Hygiene reports it has seen fentanyl-related deaths go from two or three a month to recently nearly 30 a month.

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