BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Pumping money into the battle of Baltimore’s drug problem.
More cash is pouring onto the streets in an effort to combat what’s already been a deadly summer.
Right now, the raging opioid epidemic claims two lives a day, but authorities have a new targeted approach to save drug users.
The health department is trying to hit the brakes on Baltimore’s drug problem. This time, by putting more outreach workers in neighborhoods to warn and educate.
Littered with needles; haunted by a rising body count.
“The heroin is just tearing **** apart,” said one resident.
On the corner of Ramsey and Monroe, one man leaves the health department’s needle exchange van – asking not to be shown on camera or identified – while telling WJZ’s Kimberly Eiten about his fight to stay sober.
“I’ve been in and out of the systems, to rehabs and rehabs,” he said.
He says it worked, but the opioid epidemic rages on around him.
The south Baltimore intersection is just one in the city seeing a spike in overdoses.
Claiming 700 lives last year, and still killing, on average, two people a day this year.
“Baltimore City is at the epicenter of the epidemic,” said Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.
Now, new cash is flowing in to fight the problem.
On Friday, Governor Larry Hogan announced $22 million to target the statewide emergency.
$2 million of that will pay for a 24-hour crisis center in Baltimore that they plan to have open by next summer.
And in an attempt to battle the problem on the streets, there was another $200,000 check from Open Society Institute financing workers to go to the hardest hit areas, and educate drug users on treatment options.
This is because Dr. Wen says the antidote alone isn’t the answer.
“We also can’t just keeping giving people Narcan without also there being an immediate connection to treatment,” Dr. Wen said.
The health department tracks where overdoses are happening in real time.
This money means that workers can go out immediately to warn and educate those neighborhoods.