The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has partnered with Baltimore law enforcement and healthcare officials to launch a multi-tiered plan to address the city’s opioid epidemic.
The “360 Strategy” focuses on coordinating efforts between local law enforcement and federal agencies to stop drug traffickers. The plan encourages healthcare workers and drug manufacturers to use responsible prescribing procedures. It also provides support to community organizations that treat addiction and educate young people about the dangers of opioids.
According to The Baltimore Sun, nearly 700 people died from opioid overdoses in Baltimore last year. Though heroin and prescription opioid deaths are down, the number of people that overdosed on fentanyl and carfentanil increased.
People aged 25 to 34 are considered the population most vulnerable to addiction.
Drug traffickers may face federal charges
Part of the plan includes a focus on tougher penalties for traffickers. Drug trafficking cases will be evaluated to see if the cases can be tried at a federal level. A federal drug trafficking conviction carries a lengthier sentence. Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert Hur emphasized his office will not just pursue street level dealers, but also healthcare workers who are prescribing to people that do not need opioid drugs.
Drug manufacturers could be held accountable
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh also filed a lawsuit against a drug manufacturer that sells a fentanyl-based drug. The drug was designed for people suffering with pain from cancer treatments, but Frosh claims the company is marketing it for much wider use. He alleges this led to addiction and death.
Education and outreach are emphasized
Education is also a key component of the “360 Strategy.” More resources are being provided to organizations like the Girl Scouts to get young people involved in their community and away from drugs.
For those suffering from addiction, health officials will emphasize recovery is possible for anyone. They want to remove the stigma associated with treatment and encourage more addicts to get help.
The “360 Strategy” was launched by the DEA in 14 other cities. It uses the collaborative efforts of many agencies to attack the opioid problem.