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Proposal: Combat opioid addiction in Cumberland

Let's consider the serious and fatal consequences of using opioids--and what we can do to stop the epidemic.

The Issue

Problem Defined

The problem we are trying to solve is how to eliminate the drug and opioid epidemic in Cumberland, Maryland, what we can do to get people to stop using drugs, what programs we can set up to help people that want to get clean, and more.

Expand all bullets
Our Middle Atlantic region has a high prevalence of opioid deathsMORE

Heroin overdoses in Allegany County doubled from 2015 to 2016MORE

In 2007, there were 14 fatal overdoses in Allegany County. In 2018 as of October, there have been 19 fatal overdoses in Allegany County.

Nonfatal overdoses are becoming more commonMORE

In 2014, there were 210 nonfatal overdoses, 39% of which were opioid related, in Allegany County. In 2018 as of October, there have been 302 nonfatal overdoses, 64% of which were opioid related, in Allegany County. The use of opioids is becoming more popular and more overdoses are caused by opioids.

Youth in Allegany County have been exposed to prescription painkillersMORE

A recent survey in Allegany County showed that 5% of middle school students and 15% of high school students reported using prescription pain killers that they weren't prescribed, or using them differently than how the doctor advised.

Naloxone has been used by Allegany medical professionals hundreds of timesMORE

Naloxone, which is used to treat narcotic overdoses, has been used 219 times on individuals in emergency situations. This is a very expensive process.

Naloxone is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent overdose by opioids such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. It blocks opioid receptor sites, reversing the toxic effects of the overdose. Naloxone is administered when a patient is showing signs of opioid overdose. 

According to The Recovery Village, a common brand name is Narcan which is a nasal spray version of naloxone. Narcan works by knocking the drugs a person has overdosed on out of their opioid receptors. Because of its method of action, it’s defined as an opioid antagonist. When Narcan is taken a person should regain normal breathing and regain consciousness as well, although they do still require emergency treatment. In some cases, multiple doses of Narcan may have to be given.

Using "gateway drugs" often makes a perosn more likely to develop an opioid addictionMORE

Gateway drugs include alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana. Those who use these are more likely to try more serious drugs such as opioids or heroin.

Go deeper
In Rural Maryland Counties, Communities Fight Back Against the Opioid Crisis

Brennen Jensen - (Invalid date)

This article talks about how rural communities in Maryland are dealing with drugs and how they are affecting these communities how much drugs have increased and more. This states facts about drug rates and more as well. 


We are freshmen at Allegany College of Maryland located in Cumberland, MD. We have grown up in Cumberland our entire lives and have seen this issue affect those around us. We hope to encourage our community as a whole to do more to prevent opioid addiction and find ways to minimize this epidemic.

Brandi Hamilton
Student - Allegany College of Maryland
Kara Lashbaugh
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.
Bayle Sturtz
Student - Allegany College of Maryland

The Solution

Proposed Actions
Expand all bullets
Educate kids early about the harms of drugsMORE

Kids are being exposed to drugs early. Schools need to have programs to let them know how much drugs hurt them, their families, and their future.

Have rehab clinics in the communityMORE

We need more rehab clinics for people who want or have to get clean and keep them there until they are stable and can get a job.

Creating more rehab clinics would give people have more options. Each person who enters a facility can have a different treatment. 

Transitional programs, like AA, for these people when they are done with the rehab program are also helpful. 

Encourage AA meetings in the communityMORE

Having AA meetings will give people the opportunity to share with others in challenging situations what experiences they've been through. These group meetings allow people to come together with people they can relate to. These meetings are supportive and can really help people stay on track with sobriety.

Create non-addictive pain killers MORE

We can create better medicines that are not addictive and also ones to help these people transition off of addictive pain killers. Better medicines can be an alternative for people that are given pain killers.

Increase funding for wider availability of naloxoneMORE

Increasing local funding dedicated to helping addicts recover is very necessary given the epidemic that has been going on for years. It costs a lot of money to organize facilities and groups, as well as providing drugs like naloxone to reverse the effects of an overdose, so there would be better results if funding was increased for this issue specifically.

Naloxone costs $20-$30 per dose. A Narcan kit contains two doses and costs $130-$140.

States should have standing orders for naloxoneMORE

For example, Pennsylvania has a standing order to help addicts.

Expected Results
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Rate of drug use in Cumberland would go downMORE
Nonaddictive pain killers would stop illegal salesMORE

Having alternative drugs that wouldn't be addictive would be better so that people don't sell there pills to people to get high.

Cumberland would be safer and healthierMORE

Crime would go down too.


It would cost around $5 million to carry out this solution. This includes support groups, medical costs, the use of Narcan and similar substances, and rehab costs.

The Conversation

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