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Three deaths in Maryland counties highlight evolving opioid epidemic

Health officials are now adding three more names to the growing list of opioid-related deaths across Maryland

Brooklyn Park, Md. (WBFF)- Health officials are now adding three more names to the growing list of opioid-related deaths across Maryland.

Two from Anne Arundel County and one from Frederick died from the carfentanil-related overdoses.

The synthetic opioid carfentanil is said to be 50 times deadlier than heroin and 10,000 times deadlier than morphine, according to Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The deaths come after a week when Anne Arundel County officials announced a new program to combat the issue.

"[Firefighters] see this every day, and it's, unfortunately, even like a station here in Brooklyn, it's not an unusual call they get for overdose."

Fire Chief Allan Graves said they are opening the doors of fire stations to become "safe stations," where those needing help can get it at anytime.

"We will be here; all our stations are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Graves said. "At 3 o'clock in the morning, [if] you want help, you come here and we will help you."

Last year, statewide statistics showed a significant spike in opioid-related deaths.

In 2015, overdoses from heroin, fentanyl and prescription opioid drugs totaled nearly 1,000.

That number more than doubled in 2016 to 1,973.

Health officer Jinlene Chan said social stigma often keeps people from getting the help they need.

"People don't believe it's a disease. They think it's a weakness that means they are bad people, and so were struggling with that," Chan said. "If you look at the number of sheer fatalities, and certainly the number of overdoses that are non-fatal continue to rise, we have a problem."

If you need help with this disease, there are resources available at MdDestinationRecovery.org and the 24/7 Maryland Crisis Hotline 1-800-422-0009.

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