Maryland continues to battle ongoing heroin epidemic

- Maryland authorities are once again investigating a death that could be connected to heroin. A Towson University student was found dead in her apartment and police found a substance believed to be the drug.

Meanwhile, state officials are launching a program to combat what many are calling an out of control problem.

The Towson student’s death is the latest tragedy to concern officials. Heroin's addictive -- and many times deadly effects -- are crushing families all over Maryland. It is so bad that Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford is taking the lead and heading up a heroin task force.

He said many times, those who no longer can access pain medication turn to the cheaper and more powerful heroin.

“It’s more pure than some of us old guys who remember the 80s,” said Rutherford. “It’s more powerful than the 70s and 80s heroin.”

He said heroin deaths are getting the attention of the media and the public more than ever. Heroin deaths are up 25 percent last year. Even Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan lost a cousin to heroin.

“Anecdotally, we know that for every one overdose death, there are nine that survive,” Rutherford said. “Those individuals are still addicted.”

That is why $2 million is likely being set aside later this year to fund a proposed detox clinic on the Eastern Shore and it could also pay for a law enforcement crackdown on heroin trafficking into the state.

“One of the routes where heroin is coming into the state is from Delaware,” said Rutherford. “Some of it comes through New York, and instead of coming down the I-95 corridor, they are going through the Eastern Shore.”

The heroin problem is so serious in Maryland that on Tuesday morning, state officials held a conference call with the Department of Education to discuss a plan to go into schools throughout the state to teach kids about the dangers of the drug.

Lt. Gov. Rutherford is confident the battle against heroin can be won, but the casualties are already too high.

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