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MD Anti-Drug Coalition Forms to Address Opioid Epidemic

In 2017, Marylanders surrendered more than 2,500 pounds of drugs to bins at police barracks across the state. (Pixabay)
In 2017, Marylanders surrendered more than 2,500 pounds of drugs to bins at police barracks across the state. (Pixabay)
May 3, 2018

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A coalition of Maryland leaders and health care advocates have launched a statewide coalition focused on reducing the number of people becoming addicted or dying from opioid use.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 1,800 Marylanders died in 2016 from opioid overdose. To help reduce those numbers, Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates Michael Busch along with a coalition of community leaders created the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative, or RALI Maryland. Retired General Arthur T. Dean, chairman and CEO at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, said part of their initiative is promoting the use of biodegradable pouches people can fill with water to safely dispose of their leftover prescriptions.

"And in the last week or so we've given out more than 150,000 of these pouches to Marylanders trying to help them rid themselves of these medicines,” Dean said.

RALI Maryland's inaugural program is focused on educating patients on how to safely dispose of unwanted or unused medications.

Dean said the coalition also has been working with prescription drug manufacturers and physicians to curb the number of excess drugs that are given to patients that can ultimately lead to abuse. He said doctors used to give out a 30-day supply of opioids.

"So now the prescribing guidelines says that a doctor should give no more than seven days,” he said. “And then if the patient needs more, they come back and get some."

State officials say there were nearly 2,000 fatal overdose deaths in Maryland last year. Dean said he hopes the pouch, which can hold up to 45 pills and will dissolve them with just warm water, will be just one part of a universal effort to stop the opioid crisis from getting worse in the state and around the country.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MD