Opioid Overdose Crisis


Opiates are drugs derived from the poppy plant or synthetic chemical equivalents. The medical use of opiates is to alleviate pain, decrease cough, and to treat opiate addiction. Some of their side effects are euphoria and sleepiness. Some common opiates are morphine, heroin, and codeine. Opiates are sometimes referred to by the broader term, “narcotics.” While Opiates have been used as pain killers for hundreds of years, they have also been used recreationally and abused for many years.
Opioid overdose happens when a toxic amount of an opioid—alone or mixed with other opioid(s), drugs and/or substances—overwhelms the body’s ability to handle it. Many opioid-related overdoses result from mixing prescription painkillers or heroin with benzodiazepines (benzos), cocaine and/or alcohol.
The Charles County Department of Health provides treatment of opiate disorders and other substance use disorders in a variety of ways. We have treatment professionals who provide individual and group treatment to clients from 1 to 9 hours a week. Each person is evaluated and treatment is tailored to their unique needs. Peer support specialists and community health outreach workers help individuals connect to community resources and access other levels of care. Our jail based treatment program begins treatment for individuals while they are incarcerated.
Support Group A weekly family support group meets to discuss ways to support substance using loved ones, to avoid encouraging destructive behavior, and to care for themselves when the addiction is creating chaos in their world. Narcan Training We also train people to use Narcan (Naloxone) to reverse opioid overdoses. We offer Narcan training at the Department of Health to the public every Monday from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm and off site as available. For more information and schedule of training call 301-609-6661.
Department of Health staff provides information on substance use disorder prevention to students, health department clients, and community groups. Information on prevention of opioid abuse is provided in our lobbies, and is presented at all events that the Health Department attends. Our staff is available to give presentations to the public on opiate abuse and overdose to groups throughout the county.
Maryland is grappling with a disturbing and devastating rise in heroin and opioid abuse that directly affects the lives of thousands of men, women, teens and children in our communities. Governor Hogan’s Administration has recognized the urgent need for all of us to come together across our state to tackle this emergency and develop comprehensive recommendations we can act on quickly.

Education must play a vital role in this important effort. The Maryland State Department of Education, working closely with the Office of Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford, and partners at the Departments of Health and Commerce, among others, has launched a multi-faceted prevention and awareness campaign to reach every public school, and virtually every student in middle and high school.

We are currently implementing a number of initiatives and recommendations to address the problems highlighted in both the Governor’s Interim and Final Task Force recommendations, including, but not limited to:

  • Incorporate as early and broadly as possible, heroin and opioid prevention information into school health curricula;
  • Infuse heroin and opioid prevention information into additional academic disciplines;
  • Integrate heroin and opioid addiction prevention projects into our service-learning modules;
  • Develop a student-based heroin and opioid prevention campaign; and
  • Produce a video public service announcement campaign.

This toolkit is designed to share a wealth of resources and information to support and inform the work taking place in our schools to execute these recommendations– and to provide access to information that students, teachers, and parents can use

Karen B. Salmon, Ph.D., State Superintendent of Maryland Schools

Heroin Opioid Toolkit


Tips for Communicating with Children

National Institute on Drug Abuse for Parents
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Physical Signs of Addiction

American Addiction Centers

Local Assistance for Drug Addiction

Charles County Department of Health
Charles County Government