The Inter-Agency Heroin and Opioid Coordinating Council has released the 2020 Maryland Inter-Agency Opioid Coordination Plan. This important document serves as the strategic plan for the state’s response to the ongoing opioid epidemic. The plan provides an overview of the opioid crisis, its effect on Maryland, and the goals, strategies, and objectives that will guide Maryland’s response to the opioid epidemic in the coming year.
“Since first taking office in January 2015, the Hogan-Rutherford administration has been laser-focused on implementing a comprehensive, holistic approach to addressing Maryland’s opioid epidemic,” said Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford, chair of the Inter-Agency Heroin and Opioid Coordinating Council. “Our coordination plan is an integral component of the state’s response – a response that has been viewed as a model for other states facing the same devastating effects of the opioid tragedy.”
The Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC), which Governor Hogan created through executive order in 2017, serves as the state’s coordinating body for the crisis. The OOCC facilitates collaboration among approximately 20 state agencies and all 24 local jurisdictions to reduce the harmful results of the opioid epidemic and substance use disorder on Maryland communities. “Since the beginning of this crisis, the administration’s response has focused on three key policy priorities: Prevention & Education, Enforcement & Public Safety, and Treatment & Recovery,” said Steve Schuh, executive director of the OOCC. “These policy areas form the basis of Maryland’s approach, and they drive each of the goals in the new coordination plan. The plan provides an up-to-date framework that public health, human services, education, and public safety agencies will use to stay in front of this crisis.”
From January through September of 2019, there were 1,574 deaths related to opioids in Maryland. Opioid deaths accounted for 88.7 percent of the 1,774 total unintentional intoxication deaths during this same period.
“In 2019, for the first time in over a decade, we have finally seen a decline in the number of opioid-related intoxication deaths across the state,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “While this reduction does give us hope that our efforts are on the right track, more than anything, it tells us we must continue with a well-funded, strategic, and comprehensive plan in order to keep making progress.”
The new strategic plan can be found at BeforeItsTooLate.Maryland.gov. With the support of the OOCC, local jurisdictions are encouraged to use the plan as the basis for their own coordination plans.
Before It’s Too Late is the state’s effort to bring awareness to the opioid epidemic and to mobilize resources for effective prevention, enforcement, and treatment. Marylanders struggling with a substance use disorder can find help at BeforeItsTooLateMD.org; through our state’s crisis hotline, Call 211, Press 1; or by texting their ZIP code to 898-211.