Governor Larry Hogan was joined yesterday by District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe as featured speakers at the Regional Opioid and Substance Abuse Summit. The summit, organized by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, is an opportunity for hundreds of area policymakers and public health and safety professionals from across the region to confront the many challenges associated with the growing heroin and opioid epidemic.
“Our goal today is to shine a spotlight on the heroin and opioid crisis in our region and to bring a heightened level of awareness to this rapidly escalating threat, which is tearing apart families, devastating communities, and killing more and more people every day,” said Governor Hogan. “Ultimately, this is about saving lives – that is the bottom line – and it will take a collaborative, holistic approach to achieve that. Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia will continue to be united as we work together to turn the tide in this deadly fight.”
The event, held at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, Md., was co-sponsored by CareFirst, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Kaiser Permanente, and the Regional Primary Care Coalition. The summit included breakout sessions where subject-matter experts discussed many important aspects of understanding and combating the opioid crisis, including prevention, public safety response, treatment, and stigma.
Last October, Bowser, Hogan, and McAuliffe signed a regional compact, committing to working together to combat opioid “overuse, misuse, abuse, and overdose” in metropolitan Washington. In 2015, the U.S. DEA reported more than 52,400 deaths from drug overdoses nationwide – the majority from use of opioids.
Governor Hogan’s participation in today’s summit represents an ongoing effort by the administration to combat the heroin and opioid crisis. In March, Governor Hogan signed an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency in response to the crisis, activating the state’s emergency management authority and ramping up coordination between the state and local jurisdictions. The governor also announced $50 million in new funding to address the crisis and appointed his senior emergency management advisor to lead the state’s effort to combat the crisis. The governor also released a statewide public service announcement, titled “Before It’s Too Late, which featured actor Michael Kelly and urged parents to discuss the risks of heroin and opioid abuse with their children.
Upon taking office, Governor Hogan instituted the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, led by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford. Over the last two years, the Hogan administration has made proactively addressing this crisis a cornerstone of the administration’s agenda. In January, the governor announced the administration’s enhanced 2017 Heroin Prevention, Treatment, and Enforcement Initiative, a multi-pronged strategy to tackle the evolving threat of heroin and opioid addiction. The initiative includes three important pieces of legislation: the Prescriber Limits Act of 2017, the Distribution of Opioids Resulting in Death Act, and the Overdose Prevention Act, as well as important budgetary actions, including $14 million in new funding to address the crisis.
Hear about the heroin epidemic here on The Maryland Crabs and then listen to Nick, who talks about how he beat the odds and went from homeless and living in the men’s room in the Annapolis Market House to clean and sober.