Cumberland Times-News


May 15, 2013


Officials move to cut drug abuse, overdoses

The Allegany County Board of Health on Tuesday heard some alarming numbers involving overdoses involving drugs and alcohol. Fortunately, the group already has a plan to ease the situation.

Through the first 3 1/2 months of this year, 47 people were reported as non-alcohol-related overdose patients at the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center. That number is on track to exceed 2012, when 126 cases were reported.

In Allegany County, total deaths related to drug or alcohol intoxication were 15 in 2010 and 12 in 2011, the most recent years for which data was available. Eleven of the 2010 deaths were related to opioids, as were eight in 2011. Many people admitted to the hospital because of overdoses did not die, data from Western Maryland Health System show.

Despite the deaths and hospitalizations caused by overdoses, health officials still lack adequate information about the problem. Part of the health department’s plan of attack is to expand the data from the health system to include more information about the specific drug that is the cause of an overdose. Developing a unified policy on painkiller prescriptions is another strategy being reviewed.

Another goal is to pinpoint areas in the community where alcohol and drug abuse rates are highest — and then working on ways to prevent the abuse from occurring.

The health department joined with the health system and the Mental Health Systems Office recently to bring in a national expert, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, to speak to medical professionals about prescription abuse problems. The session was attended by nearly 90 health professionals.

One effort that is already paying off is the unused expired medicine drop-off program. Allegany County has four sites, while many counties have only one or two. Sheriff Craig Robertson said the sites are being used by people wishing to dispose of medications. Disposing of the drugs keeps them out of the hands of children and abusers in a family, and from making their way to dealers in prescription opioids.

Combatting the overdose problem in our community will have to be an on-going effort.  Drugs — legal and illegal — as well as alcohol are too easily abused. Having a community-wide strategy plan in use is an important part of the solution.


Text Only
  • Not a villain Not a villain

    Time was that we looked for heroes. Heroes of the make-believe variety have sold a lot of comic books. We also had real-life heroes like Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, whose deaths the whole nation mourned.
    These days, we seem to be more interested in looking for villains. “Vote for me because I’m the good guy” has taken a back seat to “Don’t vote for him, because he’s the bad guy.”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • About time About time

    Although many Cumberland streets are in need of repair and improvements, the decision by city and county officials to address Greene Street is a good one.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where is it?

    Once upon a time, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce held its annual conventions at the Bedford Springs resort hotel near Bedford, which is in Pennsylvania.

    July 28, 2014

  • Korean War Korean War

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sloppy lawmaking is to blame

    July 27, 2014

  • C-minus grade C-minus grade

    If a survey conducted by and the Kaufman Foundation is an accurate portrayal, Maryland has a long way to go to become a business-friendly state.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big loophole Big loophole

    How ironic — and how sad — that the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority plans a closed executive session to discuss the open meetings law.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Preposterous Preposterous

    File this one under the We Thought We’d Heard Everything category: A man who attempted the armed robbery of a pizza shop is now suing the pizzeria and the employees who tackled him and wrestled his gun away during the holdup.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • No secrets No secrets

    The idea of fracturing for natural gas makes many people anxious about potential harmful effects. For that reason alone, it is incumbent on Maryland government to require full disclosure of chemicals used in the process.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don’t do it. Don’t do it

    Temperatures have been moderate recently but are projected to rise to the upper 80s and low 90s later this week, so we want to remind you: Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo