Opioid overdoses don't have to be fatal, which is one goal of the Baltimore County Department of Health.
However, not everyone has immediate access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone
First responders already carry the drug, but that might be the case for friends and family members who may be the ones to rush a loved one to the emergency room.
Baltimore County Health officials are working to change that.
Nearly 4,800 doses of the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone are on the way to four Baltimore County hospitals, courtesy of the Baltimore County Department of Health.
Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Gregory Branch said "if someone comes into the emergency room and they overdose, we know, we understand that person is at a much higher risk for overdosing again."
It's is why some may wonder if the nasal spray naloxone is enabling people to remain addicted to opioids.
Franklin Square Medical Center director of pharmacy Joshua Ryan said "if you don’t save somebody, you can’t stop them from being addicted to drugs. If you don’t reverse the overdose, there’s no way you can ever get them clean. So, this is really something to help somebody on their path to sobriety.
Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Northwest Hospital, University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, and MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center each will receive about 600 boxes of the Narcan brand of the drug.
"We’re already actually giving out naloxone doses to patients, so it will allow us to reach a broader range of individuals," Ryan said.
"This is so that we could hand it to a person, who is at high risk, or their family member, so that in the event that they were to overdose again, they would be able to use that to save someone’s life," Branch said.
Providing naloxone to local hospitals is just one way county officials hope to prevent more overdose deaths.
Baltimore County council member Vicki Almond said "as the county executive said, this has touched every family. It’s touched mine, it’s touched every family. I think we have to get a handle on it."
Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler said "to allow individuals who come in, on an overdose situation, to be able to leave with a peer counselor who has naloxone in hand, we believe that’s just another tool, that’s going to allow us to address this very serious issue."
The Baltimore County Health Department spent nearly $200,000 to provide the drug to hospitals. Each box cost about $75, and includes two doses.