Four more lost to heroin, opioids in Harford County

Posted at 11:26 PM, Mar 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-21 23:26:06-04

Four more people in Harford County have died from heroin overdoses.  All of the deaths happened over the weekend. 

Maryland's Heroin Task Force reports the number of heroin-related emergency room visits has more than tripled since 2010.

In Harford County, 20 people have died from heroin overdoses since the beginning of the year and the Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler says it looks like it's going to get worse before it gets better. 

"It's a number that we put on the board to make the community aware and how much it's costing us but behind that number it's a human being it's a father, it's a daughter, it's a mother," he said.

The growing epidemic has become all too familiar a tune in the quiet county.

"I have a sibling that's addicted and it's caused him much grief, my mother, my family," said Harford County resident, Laura Duffy.

"It's killing more people than car crashes, than murders it's the number one issue that's going to kill our younger generation," Joseph Ryan of the Harford County office of drug control, said.

 But the efforts to end it are increasing.

"We're trying to bring community awareness up to the highest level possible," Ryan said. "We're seeing more requests for treatment which is a good thing because I think our sheriff will tell you, we're not going to arrest our way out of this."

Yet,  the death toll continues to rise.

"Our fatality rate compared to this time last year is up 185 percent. We have lost so many more people this year," Gahler said.

And the drug is all too easy to obtain.

"It's everywhere. The rich kids do it. The poor kids do it, it's very accessible," Duffy said.

It's so accessible that some teens are drugged with it, something Roxanne Venker wishes she knew nothing about.  She lost her 17-year-old son last August.

"They're sneaks, sneaks who hide it, who force it on people, who lie about it, it's awful," she said.

Venker found her son dead and is now pleading with parents to wise up.

"Ask questions, know who your children are hanging around with, unfortunately I knew all of my sons friends and I didn't know," said Venker.

Harford County officials say the health department is doing Narcan training, and are seeing an increase in drug awareness initiatives at all levels throughout the county.

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