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Opioids trend upward in Howard County

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Though Howard County has seen a 27 percent decrease in nonfatal overdoses in 2020 compared to this time last year, there has also been a 10 percent increase in fatal overdoses compared to the previous year.

Howard County’s numbers are a part of a larger trend nationally and across jurisdictions suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic increases risk factors for people with substance use disorders. County Executive Calvin Ball continues to work towards creating a continuum of care for those with substance use disorders, allocating $750,000 in his FY21 operating budget to bring a residential treatment facility to Howard County.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly highlighted the disparities in our health care system, including the need for greater resources to continue combatting substance use disorders,” said Ball. “The increase in fatal overdoses is a trend that we’re seeing across the country, and we will continue to monitor our numbers as the pandemic evolves to ensure we are building the necessary capacity. I’m thankful the Howard County Council approved the funding for a local residential treatment facility for our fiscal 2021 budget, as this project is critical to providing a continuum of care for those with substance use disorders.”

Howard County continues to follow recommendations to combat substance use disorders amid the pandemic, including:

● Ensuring access to care for patients with an opioid use disorder

● Protecting patients with pain

● Harm reduction to help prevent overdose and spread of infectious disease

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. The center is anticipated to open in summer 2021. 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.

For support on substance use disorders, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/HoCoOpioidHelp.

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