BALTIMORE (WJZ) —  The number of people dying from opioid overdoses has reached epidemic proportions. City and state officials say it’s a national problem.

Baltimore city declaring the opioid problem a public health emergency.

“There are more people dying from overdose here in Baltimore City than they are dying from homicide,” says Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner.

Health experts tell WJZ part of the problem is that these drugs are easy to get and deadlier than most people think.

A silent killer, growing deadlier by the day. Opioids, meant to relieve pain, cause a spike in overdoses and deaths. Fentanyl, one of the most potent drugs, is 100 times stronger than heroin.

Drug-use, shattering families across Maryland.

“It’s devastating. I feel like our family was given a life sentence.”

In 2013 (the last year listed by the state’s Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force:
There were 464 heroin-related deaths; a 95 percent increase from previous years.

Opioid dependancy doubled in the last decade. The Harford County sheriff’s office and local hospitals are mapping out drug spots.

“We recognize the challenges that this epidemic causes for us and our communities.”

The state’s Department of Health and Hygiene attacking opioid addiction, on all fronts — with prevention, intervention, and treatment.

“We are working to put medication on the street that are effective such as naloxone,” says Kathleen Rebbert- Franklin, Director of Health Promotion and Prevention with the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene.

Baltimore city is training more than 20,000 people on how to use the life-saving drug.

On the airwaves, former Raven, Zach Orr joins the campaign against opioid abuse.

It’s an all hands approach to a devastating disease.

Health experts say a big problem is that these drugs are very pure and easy to get.

Maryland has a good samaritan law, that protects anyone helping someone who has overdosed. This allows them to stay and call for help 9-11 without risk of being prosecuted.