Former President & CEO of the NAACP outlines specific steps to bring down the number of opioid related deaths and curtail the epidemic
Silver Spring, MD — TODAY, Friday, November 17, Ben Jealous, former President & CEO of the NAACP, released a comprehensive proposal, Enough Is Enough, to end Maryland’s opioid epidemic which has claimed the lives of thousands of Marylanders.
Last year, over 1,200 Marylanders died from overdoses related to heroin, twice the number that died in 2014, while over 1,100 died with fentanyl in their system. As the epidemic becomes more complex and costly, with deadlier drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil showing up on the streets, Maryland needs a bold approach to effectively combat the crisis.
In the short term, Jealous’ plan will save lives immediately by investing an additional $2 million in state funding to stock Naloxone, sufficient for 25,000 doses of the life-saving drug as well as funding overdose outreach teams in more jurisdictions around the state. Jealous also seeks to increase the number of 24/7 crisis centers in high-risk areas to ensure that anyone who needs it can receive help at any time.
The plan ensures treatment on demand is available to those who seek it, free from the fear of criminal punishment, and expands treatment options available in correctional facilities. A core component of resolving the opioid crisis relies on treating addiction as the disease it is and shifting our collective attitude toward rehabilitation.
Maryland will also continue to take steps to hold those most responsible for the epidemic accountable, under Jealous’ plan. As governor, Jealous will work with the Attorney General to take on the opioid manufacturers whose greed created this crisis and use the settlement money to fund our efforts to end the epidemic. In addition, he’ll create a statewide Office of Pain Management, Addiction, and Recovery to manage our response now and ensure helping Marylanders recover from addiction remains a priority.
“Enough is enough. Maryland needs a comprehensive approach to the opioid epidemic that seeks to tackle every part of the crisis — stemming the wave of drug overdoses, providingtreatment on-demand to those who need it most, and ensuring that we approach this issue as a public health crisis,” Jealous said. “We need strong leadership in the face of this epidemic and what we know is that current action isn’t working, we have to do more if we want to save our neighbors from this epidemic.”
The full policy can be read here: Enough Is Enough, and highlights of the proposal are below:
Invest $2 million dollars into 25,000 doses of Naloxone
- Naloxone is a life-saving drug which quickly counters the effects of an overdose and prevents death. Jealous’ plan calls for putting Naloxone into more public spaces and requiring that all public-facing state employees are trained on how to administer the drug if needed.
- Jealous’ will also pursue strategies to reduce the cost of Naloxone by better negotiating prices with drugmakers.
Expand the number of 24/7 crisis centers to additional jurisdictions
- We have to make sure that all Marylanders can get help wherever they need it, without fear of prosecution. Otherwise, this crisis will only continue to wreak havoc on Maryland families.
Create and fund Overdose Outreach Teams in more areas of the state
- These nimble teams can respond immediately when overdose outbreaks occur to train residents and distribute Naloxone to prevent deaths, reach out to victims to get them into treatment, conduct needle exchanges to get tainted paraphernalia out of circulation, or distribute other resources as necessary.
Expand treatment options are available in correctional facilities
- By providing inmates with effective treatment while they are in jail we reduce the likelihood that they will return to jail thereby increasing public safety and saving Marylanders the cost of incarcerating those who need rehab not time served.
Target the manufacturers and pill mills that created this problem
- As governor, Jealous will work with the Attorney General to go after pharmaceutical companies and pill mills who wantonly pushed these dangerous drugs on patientswithout concern for the consequences.
- Funding from settlements with the pharmaceutical companies who created this epidemic will fund our recovery efforts.
Create a state Office of Pain Management, Addiction, and Recovery
- This office will function as a centralized point overseeing treatment and recovery efforts now while managing policy for the future to set Maryland on a healthier and more sustainable path to pain management.
Paid for by Friends of Ben Jealous, Jason Small, Treasurer