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Proposal: The Heroin Epidemic in Maryland

In Maryland, residents witnessed a 14.8% increase in opioid overdoses in the first six months of 2018. From January to June there were 1,185 opioid intoxication deaths. Over the entire year, there was a 12% increase in deaths overall. With fentanyl laced drugs on the rise, citizens of MD will not see these numbers drop without action. 

The Issue

Problem Defined

The heroin epidemic in Maryland, specifically pertaining to the people affected by the uprising of fentanyl laced drugs. 

Expand all bullets
WMHS in Cumberland, MD is opening a new 24-hour emergency room for opioid addicts.MORE

In 2018, 347 overdoses were treated at WMHS in Western Maryland - 224 of which were opioid related. These numbers have put an increasing strain on the general ER, to the point that other patients are not receiving the care they need. As a result, WMHS is opening a 24-hour opioid focused emergency room to cater to the demands of the opioid crisis in Western Maryland.

It is too easy to recieve controlled substance prescriptions.MORE

Doctor's write controlled substance prescriptions very easily to be filled at a pharmacy.  The pharmacy has to fill it unless it is from an out of town doctor.  Many patients ask for specific colors which raises a red flag as to if their actually taking them.  If we make it harder to get these controlled substance prescriptions it will eliminate more of it from the streets.

8th-12th graders are now more likely to abuse illicit drugs.MORE


Unemployment rates may lead to increased drug use.MORE

Many unemployed people may also not have good living and home situations.  Therefore, this may increase drug use as they use it as a tool to escape reality.

Go deeper

A community college in rural Maryland. 

Samantha Hammons
Genevieve Masoncup
Student - Allegany College of Maryland
Diane McMahon
Associate Professor of Sociology - Allegany College of Maryland
I am a sociology professor at Allegany College of Maryland, which is located in Cumberland, MD. I also work as the Faculty Director of the Service Learning and Civic Engagement (SLCE) Center at the college. I have worked in a variety of professions in my past that focuses on helping the homeless. Most recently I was the director of a peace and justice organization in Pittsburgh.

I am a great supporter of the work of TheChisel.com because it helps raise up topics that students and community members can work on together, in a bi-partisan manner, to address.

The Solution

Proposed Actions
Expand all bullets
Implement better consequences for the actions of drug use.MORE

Many times after an overdose the patients are just given Narcan and sent home.  After an overdose they should be required to go to a rehab center or be drug tested often.  If they don't go to rehab or fail a drug test then they should have to be put on probation or spend some time in jail.

Require highschoolers to take a class entirely focused on the opioid epidemic in order to graduate.MORE

Many highschoolers receive a shoddy education on the opioid epidemic. Oftentimes they are given basic information such as drugs are bad and never do them - or just have statistics thrown in their face. Although both of these statements are true and statistics are important, they only scratch the surface of the issue. Teachers need to go in-depth to explain the opioid epidemic and its causes to their students. Students should also be aware of exactly how drugs could affect their bodies and where to go to receive help if they fall into drug abuse. 

Improve rehabilitation strategies for opioid addicts.MORE

The 12-step programs that have grown popular actually have very little research supporting of them. In fact, many of them are shown not to effectively treat addiction in the long-term.

Expected Results
Expand all bullets
Less abandoned children.MORE

Many children of drug addicts are claimed by Child Protective Services and placed into the foster care system. If there was less addiction or better treatment for addiction, less children would have to be claimed and some children may be able to return to their original family.

Street Safety.MORE

As less people would need to turn to crime to pay for their addiction, the streets would become safer. Police officers would also be facing less crime to deal with and would not have to be spread so thinly.

Reduced Healthcare Costs.MORE

Less overdoses would equal less prescriptions for Narcan (used to end highs), Suboxone and Buprenorphine (used to ween addicts off of the opioids they abuse). Paramedic costs would also be reduced because amount of overdose calls would decreased.  Emergency rooms would also be less burdened as they would not have to treat as high of a volume of patients.


Teacher salary (per 1 school) - $57,200

Inpatient Rehab - $14,00-27,000

Outpatient Rehab - $0-500

12-step - $0

Total: $71,200-84,700

This is the cost per school and per individual. 

To cover the costs of this budget, taxes would need to be raised. Some less successful programs would need to be cut. 

The Conversation

a year ago
The heroin epidemic is a topic that really hit me with its importance after doing a project on it with another school group. During that, I found out that so many children are left abandoned by drug addicted parents. Many of them live in children's homes or foster care with nowhere to go. Learning about this situation made the topic closer to my heart and I wanted to write about it.
a year ago
The heroin epidemic in Maryland affects many people. My personal story with this is knowing children whose parents are drug users and watch it happen or be bounced around home to home. It affects them as they can't live a normal life. Some children are even born addicted to drugs. A little girl I know was born addicted to drugs and it affects her everyday in all activities.

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