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Heroin deaths in Maryland continue to climb

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Posted at 5:01 PM, Jun 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-30 08:38:03-04

For Toni Torsch, the pain is still very real from the loss of her son Dan to heroin six years ago.

"You know, when Dan was going through addiction. I thought I was just living through hell. Sleeping with my pocket book, hiding my car keys, hiding my car. hiding his car. And I would think - this must be what hell is. But it's not...it's not. Not until you have to say a final goodbye to your children. That's what hell is," Torsch told ABC2 in February.

Dan was just 24.  New numbers just released statewide show the problem isn't improving.

"Today the problem just got more pronounced.  The statistics came out that showed once again the numbers are up for the first quarter of the year," said addiction specialist Dr. Lee Tannenbaum, who said heroin is affecting people from all over.

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"Now the problem has hit a wider population a more affluent population.  Now it's not an inner city problem now it's a problem for everybody and that brings up attention," he said.

And the numbers back that up.

For the first quarter of 2016, there has already been 147 heroin-related deaths throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area.  From January to March in Baltimore City, there were 65; there were 40 in Baltimore County.

In Anne Arundel County there were 28 fatal heroin overdoses, six in Harford County, five in Howard and three in Carroll.

"The state is doing everything it can to make sure people choose the treatment options that are available to them," said Christopher Garrett of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Garrett said the state is throwing everything it can at the heroin epidemic, from Naloxone to reverse overdoses to 24 hour crisis hotlines.  But Tannenbaum says it’s obviously not enough.

"We need to treat this as a medical problem.  It needs to have the type of attention that Ebola has, it needs to have the type of attention that gun violence has.  All this talking about addiction hasn't done anything," Tannenbaum said.  "All this news media coverage about how many people are dying hasn't done anything.  All we're doing is screaming about it and complaining about it."

For Toni Torsch the talk and conversation comes too late.

" It was just a never-ending cycle."

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