By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — International Overdose Awareness Day had cities all over the world, including Baltimore, struggling to save lives and fight addiction.

In 2017, more than 72,000 people died of overdoses in the U.S., or nearly 200 people a day.

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There were 2,000 opioid-related deaths in Maryland. Baltimore has the highest death toll for accidental overdoses in the state.

“Even if you walk out this door and you walk down certain streets you’ll see signs of addiction right in your face,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said at a City Hall news conference commemorating the day.

Mayor Pugh was joined by Congressman Elijah Cummings in addressing the significance of International Overdose Awareness Day.

In Baltimore, the overdose reversal drug, naloxone is in demand and is provided by the health department. There’s also a call for federal funding of more effective drug treatment.

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“Effective treatment,” Congressman Cummings emphasized. “We don’t want to just open up a little shop saying let’s get some money from the government- no.”

The focus on this day is on people who needed help. City resident, Samantha Kerr has lost friends to addiction.

“People that I love have died from various different complications of drug use. There’s been overdose, there have been car accidents, there have been all kinds of stuff and it’s literally just the grace of God that I wasn’t one of those people.” Kerr said.

International Overdose Awareness Day is a global campaign that works toward preventing overdose, reducing the stigma associated with it, and providing support to families and loved ones of overdose victims. The unofficial awareness day is observed every year on August 31.

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