By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland’s opioid crisis is setting off alarms throughout the state, and now the Drug Enforcement Administration has issued a call to action.

“It’s a completely different epidemic than we’ve ever faced before in this country,” said Bill Alden, chairman of the DEA Education Foundation.

The DEA Education Foundation aims to help make people aware of the consequences of opioids.

“It’s important for you to understand that you have a role,” Alden said. “That means that for the parents or grandparents who have prescription drugs in their cabinet that are available for others to use to misuse, they should be dealt with. That means that before you take that painkiller, understand what the potential consequences are.”

Baltimore Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Tuggle said it’s not as long a road from pills to heroin as some might think.

“We’ve seen a whole new subculture of heroin addiction, of opioid addiction being created as the result of the misuse and abuse of prescription opioids,” Tuggle said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a 15-month period, there were more than 142,000 suspected overdoses, and Maryland is leading the way in dealing with that crisis.

Director of the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center Clay Stamp says a face needs to be put on the problem.

“I meet with a lot of people that have lost loved ones who contact the governor, and the governor has me meet them and the one thread that I hear is, ‘Please don’t let my loved one become a number.’ We need to elevate the conversation in our communities to combat the stigma associated with this.” Stamp said.

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