UMES holds opioid awareness event, days after MD overdose report releases

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – For 30 minutes Jimmy Paylor captured the attention of more than 200 University of Maryland Eastern Shore students sharing his story about his struggles with addiction. A story that hit home to almost every person in the room who’s been affected or knows someone who’s been affected by opioid and drug abuse.

“When I asked the question, how many people know someone that’s been involved, addicted, or lost to this… everybody raised their hand including myself,” said Secretary for the Higher Education State of Maryland, Jim Fielder.

As part of an opioid awareness campaign, the ‘Reality Check’ event comes just days after a report was released from the Maryland Department of Health. Showing for the first time in almost a decade the state has experienced a six month decline in the total number of opioid related deaths. But some places here on the shore, aren’t seeing these results.

“We see that the numbers have actually remained the same. So we haven’t seen a reduction but we also haven’t seen an increase,” said Wicomico County Opioid Coordinator, Christina Bowie-Simpson.

Health officials tell 47ABC the continued push to educate the public about addiction and drug abuse is critical to help see these overdose numbers go down.

“That’s life or death right there, I mean that’s really, really important,” said UMES senior Dwayne Marshall.

And one of the biggest tools of all advocates say can help save a life, is making sure every single person knows about the Good Samaritan law, and understands that you can’t get in trouble for calling for help if someone has overdosed.

“I think teaching people that , and if you see something then you know help someone, I think teaching that is really good for people and it would save a lot of lives,” said UMES junior Sumayah Arcusa.

“This is not a criminal based issue, it’s something that’s there to save lives,” said Director of Government Relations at  UMES, Jim Mathias.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan responded to the news of this report saying, “Though the continued decline in fatal overdoses is welcome news, the heroin and opioid epidemic remains a crisis and we will continue to respond with all the tools at our disposal.” If you would like to see the full report from the Maryland Department of Health click here.

And if you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder can find help at

Categories: Local News, Maryland