Law enforcement officials, health experts and community leaders will discuss Frederick County’s heroin and opioid epidemic and possible solutions at a town hall meeting later this week.

A panel of six people, including Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and Frederick County Health Department employee Sarah Drennan, will talk about addiction and the ways in which various agencies in the county are tackling this problem as well as answer any questions raised by the audience.

Geared toward parents and teens, the event is structured to not only provide information, but raise awareness of resources and ways to get help, said Cynthia Terl, of Gale Recovery Inc., a local nonprofit addiction treatment program.

“[The] idea is getting information in the hands of young people and of the parents to try and slow this ball that’s rolling down. The train has left the station. [Now] how do we get that train to slow down?,” she said, referring to the heroin epidemic that has claimed the lives of hundreds since 2007.

In 2014, there were 32 heroin-related overdose deaths in Frederick County alone, according to data compiled by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. This number has not yet been confirmed by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

To combat the growing use of heroin in Frederick County, local law enforcement agencies have pursued interdiction efforts and undercover operations while the county health department strives to place the anti-overdose medication naloxone in as many hands as possible.

“This crosses all lines,” Terl said, noting heroin and opioid addiction is not specific to one demographic.

Although heroin remains at the forefront of Frederick County’s drug problem, prescription drugs also play a pivotal role. Many heroin users began their drug addiction with non-prescribed drugs such as prescription painkillers before switching to heroin.

“The reality is heroin is easier to get and lot less expensive,” Terl said. “The main purpose of the town hall is to try to get to parents, as many as we can, to say, ‘Here’s the problem, we all know the problem, and here are some of the solutions.’”

Similar town halls have been held in counties across Maryland, many spearheaded by Gaudenzia Inc., one of the region’s largest drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs.

At the request of its new partner, Gale Recovery teamed up with Gaudenzia and local agencies to put on a town hall in Frederick County, according to Terl.

“We don’t want to just be known as the Band-Aid,” Terl said. “When people get in trouble, they come to us. We really want to be involved in the prevention [as well].”

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.

(4) comments

deutschmnn

Sevenstones1000, when someone takes prescription drugs not prescribed to the taker. Make sense? The Taliban and ISIS are making advances in the north if Afghanistan so they'll be destroying the fields we've been protecting in no time.

sevenstones1000

"Non prescribed drugs such as prescription pain killers"? Are they prescribed or not?

MAVRICKinc7

YES...they are, BUT what does that have to do with the ABUSE of prescribed drugs. Why is your pharmacy becoming more strict with dispensing drugs that were to control pain and chronic pain?

We can't see pain, so what is the doctor and pharmacy to do but respond in good faith to patient care, when many patients turn out to be liars. And this doesn'r even account for prescription drugs being stolen by family and friends with addictions? Why have common, over the counter drugs like medicine combined with codine have been removed from the open shelf and put behind the counter and dispensed now by prescription? It's primarily because the buying public has abused the ingredients and transformed it into a much more dangerous drug that has led to death by overdose.

From sniffing glue to grinding up medication and inhaling the intoxicating ingredients, we are back where we started from, as FrederickVeteran put it, "100 years" ago and still going nowhere.

Saying NO to drugs has been on the books for decades. Look where it has gotten the addict so far, except to live on the fringe and too afraid to make a difference in their lives or yours. As this article describes what the problem is but only pays lipservice to a growing problem that remains unabated for the last 20 years.

FrederickVeteran

I believe because heroin has been a jobs creator in America for over 100 years it's not going anywhere.

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