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Proposal: Slash The Drug Epidemic

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “70,237 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in 2017.” This is a statistic that should alarm everyone. The drug epidemic is widely spreading across the United States of America. It affects the community as a whole, not just an individual. This addiction problem affects families, friends, children, co-workers, etc. 


The Issue

Problem Defined

We would like to educate the community about the different resources that there are for those who are addicted and their families. We would also like to see more resources available for people who need it.

Expand all bullets
Number of Deaths by OverdoseMORE

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that “In 2017, there were 1,985 overdose deaths­­­ involving opioids in Maryland—a rate of 32.2 deaths per 100,000 persons, which is twofold greater than the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. The state ranks in the top 5 for opioid-related overdose death rates with the largest increase attributed to cases involving synthetic opioids (mainly fentanyl)” (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019).

Community ProblemMORE

An article from the “Cumberland Times-News” states that “The poll found that most Americans — 62 percent — said that at least one type of substance use was a serious problem in their communities. That included alcohol, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, meth and prescription pills. Some 43 percent said they have a relative or close friend with substance abuse issues. Seven in 10 Americans believe not enough is being done to find better addiction treatment or to make treatment programs more accessible in their communities” (Pane and Swanson, 2016).

Medication to Aid Recovery MORE

Research shows that “medication in support of recovery provide the best method for engaging people in the long-term support they need to establish a solid recovery” (Harding, 2016). Referral programs through the law will allow people to voluntarily come into the local Sheriff's office and request assistance. The community or other sources would then cover the cost of treatment.

How Addiction WorksMORE

“Our brains want us to repeat things that we need or enjoy—like eating a good meal. That's why you sometimes eat more dessert than you know you should. That's why a little child often shouts "again!" when you do something to make them laugh. Drugs of abuse excite the parts of the brain that make you feel good. But, after you take a drug for a while, the feel-good parts of your brain get used to it. Then you need to take more of the drug to get the same good feeling. Soon, your brain and body must have the drug just to feel normal. You feel sick and awful without the drug.” (What is Addiction, n.d.)

Long-Term Effects on the BrainMORE

“Researchers are also investigating the long-term effects of opioid addiction on the brain. One result is tolerance, in which more of the drug is needed to achieve the same intensity of effect. Another result is dependence, characterized by the need to continue use of the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Studies have shown some deterioration of the brain’s white matter due to heroin use, which may affect decision-making abilities, the ability to regulate behavior, and responses to stressful situations. In many cases, the fear of detoxification is a driving force behind continued use.” (A Plan to Combat the Opioid and Heroin Crisis in Allegany County, 2016)

The Effect in Allegany CountyMORE

A Cumberland Times New article states, “addiction has become an epidemic in Allegany County...it is time we educate ourselves and come together to resolve this problem and come together,” (McMinn 2017).

Drug MigrationMORE

“But the problem is magnified in Maryland's rural counties by the nearness of Baltimore, a city that federal officials have rated one of the country's most heroin-plagued, with an estimated 45,000 addicts. Users buy heroin - a white or brown powder - for $6 to $10 a capsule in Baltimore, then resell it in Cumberland for three to five times as much. To avoid the painful symptoms of withdrawal, hard-core addicts snort or inject the drug several times a day” (Sabar, 2018)

Prescription and Non-Prescription OpiodsMORE

This crisis includes both prescription and nonprescription (illegal) use of opioid drugs. Prescription opioids include natural and semi-synthetic opioids such as codeine and morphine, and synthetic opioids such as methadone, fentanyl, and tramadol. Many of the synthetic agents such as fentanyl are manufactured and distributed illegally. With the increased availability of both prescribed and illegally obtained opioids over the past 30 years, there has been an increase in misuse and deaths (Figure).4   (Rummans, T., Burton, M. and Dawson, N. (2019).

A Plan to Combat the Opioid and Heroin Crisis in Allegany County

Ardent Solutions, Inc. -


Ardent Solutions, Inc. 2016. A Plan to Combat the Opioid and Heroin Crisis in Allegany County. Retrieved October 5, 2019 eport-2016.pdf)

Go deeper

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Facts Graph

This is a graph about drug and alcohol intoxication deaths by place of occurrence and year.

Drug Concerns in US Communities

AP-NORC - (Invalid date)


The graph below shows the percentages of what community members believe drugs are a serious problem in their communities and what the communities are not doing to help solve this issue.

Amount of Deaths Due to Overdose

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Amount of Deaths due to Overdose

The graph below shows the number of deaths from 1999 to 2017 and shows which substance caused each death.


We are a group of college students from Allegany College of Maryland who are passionate about making a positive impact on the world and solving social issues. We are enthralled about the drug epidemic and feel strongly that it needs to be solved. We want to spread awareness about the epidemic and provide help to the community as a whole.

Madeline Cullen
Ana Fife
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.
Page Petenbrink
Hannah Reynard
Rachael Rothe

The Solution

Proposed Actions
Expand all bullets
Educating MORE

Educating the community about different programs for addicts and family members.

Getting a sponsorMORE

A sponsor is there to help aid recovery for addicts and recovering addicts. 

12 Step ProgramMORE

Information on the 12 step program

1. Admitting powerlessness over the addiction

2. Believing that a higher power (in whatever form) can help 

3. Deciding to turn control over to the higher power

4. Taking a personal inventory 

5. Admitting to the higher power, oneself, and another person the wrongs done 

6. Being ready to have the higher power correct any shortcomings in one’s character 

7. Asking the higher power to remove those shortcomings 

8. Making a list of wrongs done to others and being willing to make amends for those wrongs

9. Contacting those who have been hurt, unless doing so would harm the person 

10. Continuing to take personal inventory and admitting when one is wrong

11. Seeking enlightenment and connection with the higher power via prayer and meditation

12. Carrying the message of the 12 Steps to others in need

Family Counseling MORE

The family of addicts needs just as much support as the addicts do. It is beneficial to both the addict and family members. It helps the family uncover the underlying issues and feelings. It can also help them create a new approach to give them closure and help each other continue to move forward. 

Expected Results
Expand all bullets
Increase the number of addicts getting helpMORE

We hope that by spreading awareness about the drug epidemic it will increase the amount of addicts and families of addicts getting help. 

Providing support to the community MORE

We want communities across the country, and especially ours to come together and support the people in need of help. 

Gain knowledge on how addiction is an illness MORE

People who are looking at drug addiction from the outside, with no knowledge of what it is like must realize that addiction is an illness the same as cancer or diabetes. Looking at addiction at that stand point will allow more open-mindness and support.  

Spread awareness that addiction isn’t a choice, it can happen to anyone MORE

If everyone in the community, including leaders, members, and especially the addicts and their families understand that addiction is not a choice, but a disease it will allow people to open their minds about addiction. Realizing that addiction is an illness will help to decrease the negative stigma around the addicts and their families. 


“Some inpatient rehabs may cost around $6,000 for a 30-day program. Well-known centers often cost up to $20,000 for a 30-day program. For those requiring 60- or 90-day programs, the total average costs could range anywhere from $12,000 to $60,000” (Cost of Rehab: Paying for Addiction Treatment)

The Conversation

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