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Opioid Operational Command Center Shares Progress in Efforts to Fight Heroin and Opioid Epidemic

State and Local Partners’ Education and Prevention, Enforcement, and Treatment and Recovery Efforts Align with State Coordination

October 12, 2018

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Today, the Maryland Department of Health released its Unintentional Drug And Alcohol-Related Intoxication Death Report for the second quarter of 2018. Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center has been working with state agencies and partners, and local jurisdictions to address the epidemic.

“As the crisis continues to evolve, so does the hard work of the Hogan administration and Marylanders all across our state. The Opioid Operational Command Center is working closely with a growing number of partners, and our local jurisdictions’ Opioid Intervention Teams are increasing access to treatment and recovery resources, stemming the tide of dangerous fentanyl by disrupting drug trafficking organizations, and expanding the important work of prevention through education in our schools, faith-based organizations, the business community, and Maryland’s communities,” said Clay Stamp, executive director of the Opioid Operational Command Center. “Every day, more and more people – from Western Maryland to Baltimore to the Eastern Shore – are engaging with us in this fight against the heroin and opioid epidemic.”

Statewide, Maryland’s hospitals are using standard emergency department discharge protocols for individuals suffering from substance use disorders, including: SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment), peer support specialists, “warm” handoffs to treatment, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation is engaging Maryland’s business community to address how to help build creative employee retention and recruitment capabilities for individuals in recovery.

At the local level, Opioid Intervention Teams (OITs), which are set up in each of Maryland’s jurisdictions and led by the local emergency manager and health officer, are reporting progress on initiatives that support the state’s fight against this crisis, such as the expansion of local crisis services, prevention, and education programs in schools, access to medication-assisted treatment, and public awareness campaigns.

All 24 Maryland jurisdictions report naloxone training and distribution, including 10 jurisdictions that participate in the EMS Leave Behind program, which distributes naloxone directly to high-risk individuals.

“Our partnership with the state has allowed us to expand access to naloxone for people using drugs in our community,” said Crista M. Taylor, president and CEO of Behavioral Health System Baltimore. “With record numbers of opioid overdose deaths and other drug-related harms occurring, naloxone is an indispensable tool in reducing overdose deaths in our community.”

Sixteen jurisdictions report implementing mobile crisis teams – 13 of which are new or have been expanded. In Wicomico County, the Community Outreach Addictions Team (COAT) is a mobile crisis partnership between the Wicomico County Health Department, Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office, Wicomico County Government, Salisbury City Government, Wicomico County Sheriff’s Department and a number of community partners, including Peninsula Regional Medical Center. The goal of the joint initiative is to combat overdoses and provide a smooth transition to treatment and recovery services to individuals with an opioid addiction.

“Our COAT program that responds to overdoses as a crisis response has increased staffing over the course of the two years of operation. The program’s success has led to the leveraging of other dollars to support similar activities,” said Lori Brewster, Wicomico County health officer. “For example, our peers are now part of the SAFE Streets program, as well as a response to the Child Advocacy Center for Addicted mothers and babies. In addition, the program has received National Designation as a Promising Practice and we have presented it at multiple venues and conferences. COAT is important to Wicomico County as it provides individuals with the “bridge” from overdose to treatment.”

Additional developments include:

Prevention and Education

  • All 24 jurisdictions report implementing information campaigns aimed at prevention and stigma reduction (as of the end of FY2018)
  • Department of Juvenile Services provides youth drug education in its facilities (as of the end of FY2018)
  • All 24 jurisdictions report implementing programs to encourage safe disposal of prescription medications (as of the end of FY2018)
  • 39,250 individuals have been trained in overdose response and naloxone administration (FY2018)


  • 11,309 pounds of prescription medications collected by Maryland State Police (FY2018)
  • 8,911.07 grams of illicit opioids seized and reported by heroin coordinators (January – August 2018)

Treatment and Recovery

  • Number of substance use disorder treatment beds in Maryland that have been licensed by the Maryland Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Administration has more than doubled – increasing from 1,484 beds as of January 2017 to 3,354 beds as of September 2018
  • Twenty-two jurisdictions report that peer support specialist programs are new or have been expanded, and all 24 jurisdictions report having peer support specialists in at least one of the following areas: hospital emergency department, Overdose Survivors Outreach Program, obstetrics/gynecology offices, other healthcare setting, recovery centers, street outreach, crisis response, stabilization centers, accompanying law enforcement, correctional and/or parole settings, drug courts, faith-based organizations, other community-based organizations, and schools (as of the end of FY2018)
  • 9,125 individuals received substance use disorder residential treatment services paid for through Medicaid and state-funded programs (FY2018)

Before It’s Too Late is the state’s effort to bring awareness to this epidemic—and to mobilize resources for effective prevention, treatment, and recovery. Marylanders grappling with a substance use disorder can find help at or by calling 211 and pressing 1. Additional support is available, which has information on both text and chat features.