HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — The battle against the opioid epidemic is getting a boost in Howard County.

The county received a grant for 24-hour substance abuse services from the State Health Department for more than $1 million, another weapon in the arsenal of this statewide epidemic.

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The crisis continues today, even when the overdose is not fatal.

“We are not immune to this epidemic in Howard County,” said police chief Lisa Myers.

Sean Ford, who was given prescription painkillers at age 17, is in recovery now.

“It was a battle every day, waking up, trying to find your next pill so you won’t be sick,” he said.

At a news conference Tuesday, Howard County executive Calvin Ball announced a $1.095 million state grant to expand the county’s 24-hour mental health services to include substance abuse.

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“Too many of our residents are suffering from opioid addiction and frankly not only is it the residents but those of us who love them suffer too,” said Ball. “So this million dollars is going to help so much with crisis stabilization and really start making an impact.”

According to Ford, it is important that these services are immediately available for those who want help.

“When a user wants treatment or you’re seeking out treatment it has to be an instant ‘ok we can plug you in here’ because if you don’t,” he said. “circumstances might change.”

Howard County reported 187 non-fatal overdoses last year. Thirty-one deaths were opioid-related.

According to the Department of Health preliminary statistics, there were more than 1600 opioid-related deaths in the first nine months of last year.

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