By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (AP) — Gov. Larry Hogan has declared a state of emergency in response to Maryland’s continuing problems with heroin and opioid addiction.

The Republican governor on Wednesday announced $50 million in new funding to help address the problem over five years. The money will be used to support the state’s prevention, recovery and enforcement efforts.

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“Nearly every family’s been touched in some way, either direct family member or someone they love or someone they care about, a close neighbor. I had a family member myself who died of a heroin overdose,” Hogan said.

Hogan says the problem is increasing at such an alarming rate that the state must allow for rapid coordination with state and local emergency management teams.

The final 2016 opioid death count is expected to reach 2000.

The governor says the emergency declaration is the result of the initial findings of a command center the administration created in January to facilitate greater collaboration among state agencies.

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“We need to treat this crisis the exact same way we would treat any other state of emergency,” Hogan said. “Working together to finally begin turn the tide on this difficult fight.”

An additional $10 million a year will be dedicated to treatment and prevention.

In January, Hogan announced three measures he is supporting in this year’s legislative session to help battle drug addiction.

The governor also wants to restrict the number of pills allowed in prescriptions for opioids. Seven other states have those kinds of limits.

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