Howard County saw a 37 percent decrease in opioid related deaths in 2019 compared to 2018. There was also a 17 percent decrease in non-fatal overdoses compared to the previous year. The county also noted a continued decrease in both non-fatal and fatal overdoses since 2017, which the county credits to coordination between the county and state government and county departments, including health, police and fire and nonprofit organizations like Grassroots Crisis Intervention.
“We saw more than 180 fatal and non-fatal combined overdoses here in Howard County in 2019,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “Moving forward, we will continue taking a comprehensive approach to provide the full continuum of care in Howard County, and ensure all our residents are healthy and thriving.”
In December, Grassroots opened the New Beginnings Crisis Stabilization Center so that individuals in need of a referral for substance use disorder treatment can receive immediate screening and intervention services so that they do not experience a delay in entry into residential or outpatient treatment.
Next steps include the construction of a new, residential treatment center through a first-of-its-kind partnership in the state between the county and Delphi Behavioral Health Group. Howard County continues to enhance family support through navigation services and integrate substance use treatment within mental health programs to address the high rate of co-occurrence. With these programs, the goal is to make sure that residents seeking treatment will be able to remain here in Howard County.
“The continued downward trend in Howard County’s number of overdoses is encouraging,” said Howard County Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman. “However, we know that opioid misuse is still an issue faced by many. From AED cabinets stocked with Narcan, to peer support specialists, and Living Well programs, to 24/7 crisis services and access to medication assisted treatment, there are many resources available for those battling opioids. Reducing the number of opioid overdoses and saving lives by meeting people where they are remains a priority.”