BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As heroine addiction and overdoses increase across the state, Maryland officials are using the big screen to spread public awareness.

With heroin addiction wreaking havoc on families and communities across the state, Harford County officials are bringing the message of prevention to local movie theaters.

The video clips have already hit theaters in the county. The goal is to get parents to have real conversations about the dangers of heroin.

“She always loved to have fun, it didn’t seem anything was wrong.”

Movie-goers in Harford County are coming face-to-face with the grim reality of heroin addiction. A series of videos before their regularly scheduled films features people that have lost relatives to heroin overdoses.

“What better than to go into movie theaters when parents are with their children, to continue our efforts at prevention,” said Barry Glassman, Harford County Executive.

The public service announcements aim to get parents and children talking about heroin, as the number of heroin overdoses and deaths continue to rise across the state.

From January to June 2016, there have 920 overdose deaths, compared to 601 deaths, during the same time last year.

Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County and Baltimore County are all seeing a drastic spike in use of the opioid.

“Here in Baltimore there are more people dying from overdose that are dying from homicide,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.

Tanza and Jena have been in a lifelong battle with addiction.

“It started when I was 12 years old and the first time I stopped I was 29,” said Tanza.

“Sad and lonely and living in a life that wasn’t mine,” said Jena.

Here in Baltimore City, the heroin problem was declared a public health emergency, as the drug continues to devastate communities and families.

“I feel like our family was given a life sentence of grief,” said Toni Torsch, who lost son in accidental overdose.

A grief the videos may help prevent.

And health officials say heroin has never been cheaper or more deadly. In 2015, over 1,200 people died from overdose deaths in Maryland.

  1. dolorfinis says:

    Stop the drug war with objective of shutting down the black market. The drug war has failed. The drug war is driving the problems, not fixing them. Decriminalization/legalization is necessary, it needs to be backed up with public health announcements explaining exactly why it is needed. Its not in any way condoning the abuse of addictors, it is done bc the alternative, the drug war, has made things infinitely worse on almost every level, to include making drugs abundantly available to any & all that wants them.
    We need to pull LE out of the drug biz – that will free up a lot of resources currently chasing their collective tails. When the laws create more harm and cause more damage than they prevent, its time to change the laws. The $1 TRILLION so-called war on drugs is a massive big government failure – on nearly every single level. Its way past time to put the cartels & black market drug dealers out of business. Mass incarceration has failed. We cant even keep drugs out of a contained & controlled environment like prison.
    We need the science of addiction causation to guide prevention, treatment, recovery & public policies. Otherwise, things will inexorably just continue to worsen & no progress will be made. Addiction causation research has continued to show that some people (suffering with addiction) have a “hypo-active endogenous opioid/reward system.” This is the (real) brain disease, making addiction a symptom, not a disease itself. One disease, one pathology. Policy must be made reflecting addiction(s) as a health issue.
    The war on drugs is an apotheosis of the largest & longest war failure in history. It actually exposes our children to more harm & risk and does not protect them whatsoever. In all actuality, the war on drugs is nothing more than an international projection of a domestic psychosis. It is not the “great child protection act,” its actually the complete opposite.
    The lesson is clear: Drug laws do not stop people from harming themselves, but they do cause addicts to commit crimes and harm others. We need a new approach that decriminalizes the disease. We must protect society from the collateral damage of addiction and stop waging war on ourselves. We need common sense harm reduction approaches desperately. MAT (medication assisted treatment) and HAT (heroin assisted treatment) must be available options. Of course, MJ should not be a sched drug at all.
    Every human being is precious, worthy of love and belonging, and deserves opportunities to fulfill his or her potential regardless of past trauma, mental and emotional anguish, addictive behaviors or mistakes made.