Matt Wildrick/The Commuter.

FCC hosts forum on opioid epidemic

By Danielle King

Frederick Community College held a faculty and staff forum on the state and county opioid epidemic on Oct. 27 at the Jack B. Kussmaul Theater.

The Center for Student Engagement sponsored this forum of local agencies and experts to educate, inform and support the fight against opioids in Frederick county.

“My goal is that everyone leaving here today understands the connection of how prescription drug use leads to heroin drug abuse,” Brian Fitzpatrick, resident Agent-in-Charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency said to open the discussion.

Fitzpatrick added that people are unaware of how addictive improperly used prescription drugs are, and that people advance from prescription opioid abuse to heroin abuse because the drug is “cheaper and more powerful.”

He added that local statistics show that 4 out of 5 heroin addicts began with the use of prescription drugs.

Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins was also present at the event and stated that his office sees the opioid usage in Frederick County as not just a public health concern but also a major issue in the war on drugs.

Jenkins said that in his 27 years of law enforcement experience that up until 2012 he had seen very little heroin.

He noted that in 2012 Frederick county saw 21 heroin overdoses with six of those being fatal.  In 2014 he stated that those figures increased to 113 heroin overdoses with 28 of those incidents resulting in a fatality. Finally he stated that year to date Frederick County has seen 313 overdoses with 36 fatalities and noted that the year isn’t over yet.

Sheriff Jenkins stressed the importance of community support and urged for more community involvement in dealing with the increasing opioid epidemic.

“We can not arrest and enforce our way out of this crisis,” Jenkins said.

Kathy Manwiller, a counselor in the Office of Counseling and Advising at FCC said that there are students who attend FCC that have began and remain in recovery.

Sarah Drennan, assistant director of Behavioral Health Services at the Frederick County Health Department discussed methods of fighting the epidemic beyond law enforcement. She said that prevention works, treatment is effective, and recovery is possible.

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