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Although the presence and prevalence of heroin in Frederick County remains a concern, the number of deaths from the drug appears to be declining in 2015, according to local and state officials.

Seven people died from heroin-related overdoses in Frederick County in the first half of 2015, according to data compiled by local law enforcement.

The number of fatal heroin overdoses for Frederick County at this time last year was 12, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“It is encouraging,” said Santita Prather, the Frederick County Health Department’s recovery support coordinator, noting it is a positive step for the county, but too early to predict any trend.

The number of heroin-related overdose deaths has steadily increased since 2012, more than doubling from 10 deaths that year to 21 in 2013. In 2014, fatal heroin-related overdoses in a single year reached an all-time high since 2007 at 26 deaths, according to a DHMH report.

Although the number of fatal heroin-related overdoses in a single year may decrease in 2015 for the first time since 2012, nonfatal heroin-related overdoses remain in the double digits, according to data compiled by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

As of June 30, 34 of the 41 heroin-related overdoses in Frederick County were nonfatal. In 2014, there were 71 nonfatal heroin-related overdoses, while in 2013, there were 42, according to data from four of the five law enforcement agencies operating in Frederick County.

Maryland State Police do not collect data on heroin-related overdoses.

Mentor program debuts in city of Frederick

A program that would allow Frederick city police officers to connect alcoholics and drug addicts with a mentor launched in mid-June, a few weeks after the intended start date of June 1, according to officials.

The pilot program, which pairs addicts with trained volunteers who will guide their treatment and recovery through a partnership between Frederick County Health Department and the Frederick Police Department, had a soft launch to ensure a smooth start, according to Lt. Dennis Dudley.

“We want to make sure we started right and had enough people trained,” he said.

As of Thursday, eight volunteers received the green light to begin acting as recovery coaches with Frederick police, passing all training requirements and background checks associated with the program, Prather said.

There have been no referrals yet, but the volunteers are ready to respond, Prather and Dudley said.

Follow Paige Jones on Twitter: @paigeleejones.

Paige Jones covers business and biotech in Frederick County. She started at the paper in 2014 as a nighttime crime reporter before switching to business. A Kansas transplant in Maryland, she enjoys exploring the East Coast in her free time.

(3) comments

FrederickVeteran

The war on drugs has had mixed reviews but there is no doubt it has been a successful middle class job creator and caused explosive government spending. Although I support the spirt of the campaign but I just don't see how the CJS will be able to justify and sustain these enormous budgets which support the campaigns in lieu of states struggling to make ends meet in good economic conditions.

bosco

I can tell you from personal observations based on working in and around the criminal justice system for 30 years that very few ever return to productive lives. Their addiction feeds all manner of crime and if they live long enough to have offspring they simply raise the next generation of criminals. Addicts and their prodigies are a huge drain on society through the costs of the law enforcement and criminal justice industries.

In the last few years, I have become more of a proponent for decriminalizing drugs and spending the money we spend on the "war" on drugs for treatment. It would put the drug cartels out of business - as well as a lot of law enforcement types.

Wasn't it Einstein who said something like insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results?

DickD

I can't help wondering what the percentage is of those addicted to heroin ever get off from it and go back to leading a useful life. Do they ever lead a normal life again? Do most eventually overdose and die?

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