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State, federal officials work to combat heroin epidemic


BALTIMORE —This week is Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.

President Obama declared that this week would be dedicated to educating people and helping them find treatment and recovery services from addiction.

Drug experts point out that heroin is cheap, accessible and addictive.

Heroin and opioid-related abuse has become a deadly issue, not just for Maryland, but the entire country.

That is why state and federal officials are teaming up to combat this issue.

"From 2011 to 2015, the number of heroin-related overdose deaths tripled here in Maryland,” Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said.

Those numbers are the reason this week is set aside to raise awareness about the dangers of heroin and opioid-related abuse.

"We need to make sure people understand how serious, how damaging, how life-threatening this can be,” Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said. “It can happen to your kids, my kids, our parents. It can happen to anyone.”

Rosenstein and Frosh acknowledge this problem is so large that raising awareness is simply not enough.

"We formed a heroine task force that runs from Maryland to Maine, literally,” Frosh said. “From Camden Maine, to Camden, New Jersey to Camden Yards in Baltimore City. All of those attorneys general in those jurisdictions are working together,” Frosh said.

For about the last 18 months, heroin overdose deaths have been treated as a homicide. That way officials can try to track down the dealer and charge them criminally.

"If they're able to conduct an investigation and figure out what those drugs are coming from, we can prosecute the distributors and save other victims by shutting off at source of supply,” Rosenstein said.