WASHINGTON (WJZ) — The White House launches a new multi-million dollar program to fight a nationwide heroin epidemic. Some of the money is coming right here to our area. It is part of a push from the feds to focus on treating, not punishing heroin addicts.

Christie Ileto explains the shifting focus.

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Soaring overdoses and a rampant epidemic the feds are hoping to curb with a new $5 million program.

The money will go to 15 states, including Maryland — half of it to pair officers with public health experts to help heroin addicts get treatment while also tracing where the lethal drug is coming from and who’s dealing it.

“It’s a drop in the bucket if you’re just talking about the problem,” said Kevin Shird, youth advocate and author.

Last year, heroin overdoses in Maryland jumped 25 percent to almost 600 deaths. In Baltimore, it killed 192 people out the city’s 303 overdoses.

Now a city youth advocate, Kevin Shird knows firsthand the dangers of heroin, saying this money is only a first step.

“Until we get serious about investment,” he said.”Two million dollars is nothing. It’s not a big investment.”

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But tackling the surge in overdoses is only compounded by the rising costs of the life saving antidote, naloxone.

“When the manufacturer apparently found out the drug was in demand, they upped the price,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Once $15 a dose, it has nearly tripled.

WJZ was there 10 years ago when Baltimore EMTs saved an overdosing drug user with naloxone.

But heroin remains lethal, killing almost 200 people in the first three months of this year — a stat advocates hope will slow, by focusing more on treatment.

Of the $2.5 million, city and state leaders say it’s unclear just how much Maryland will get from the program.

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The new program will also allow law enforcement to trace where the painkiller fentanyl, which is often laced with heroin, is coming from.