Wicomico County holds take back the community forum

SALISBURY, Md. - Officials and residents are teaming up to take back the community at a forum on opioid ovdoses at the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury Thursday.

County officials announced the forum as a way to let the public know what they have been doing to combat the epidemic, while taking input from the community how they can continue the fight.

The county has already seen signs of improvement, including a 24 percent decrease in opioid overdoses in the first quarter this year.  The only such decrease of any county in the state, according to County Executive Bob Culver.

"It's the collaborative effort with the states attorneys office, the sheriffs department, the county, the city, everyone working together to try to attack and address the issues," said Lori Brewster with the Health Department.

Local resident Mary Jo Bruster lost her son last year to overdose.  She says treatment programs for those addicted don't go far enough.

"He would go to detox for a week and the problem out there is that, the treatment is just not long enough for these kids.  You're sending them from a detox after seven days out on to the streets and they're right back to where they were."

Baynum says education also needs to be stressed, for more than just those struggling with their addiction.

"And not just education for the substance abuser, there has to be education for the family."

Sheriff Mike Lewis says some that are addicted need to be pushed by law enforcement to get the help they need.

"Most people will not get the help  unless we get them in the system and have it hanging over their head and say you've got to get help now or you're going away...   My niece didn't.  She said, 'Uncle Mike, it's my life, I've got to live my life.'  I said, 'babygirl, that's your choice.  But Im coming after you.'"

Lewis adds that six canines are now trained to sniff out heroin.

Brewster urged residents to guard their excess medications, adding that the health department is working with the board of education to teach opioid awareness to kids beginning in first grade.

Brewster tells 47abc this is the opening of a series of forums throughout the county, though future ones have not yet been officially scheduled.

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