Snow Hill Officials Huddle To Discuss Heroin Epidemic Concerns

SNOW HILL – A community meeting to educate Snow Hill’s citizens on the county’s growing heroin epidemic drew a small crowd this month, but for government and law enforcement officials spearheading the session, the topic was personal.

Snow Hill Mayor Charlie Dorman said he approached Police Chief Tom Davis with the idea for a meeting after hearing the toll opioids were taking on the community.

“It’s here,” Dorman said. “We already lost six in this community. It’s amazing how bad it is.”

After hearing of Dorman’s ideas, Davis partnered with Worcester County Health Department’s Mike Trader and Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby to host the public forum.

Like many in Worcester County, Davis explained that even his own family wasn’t immune to drug addiction. One week after his youngest child left the house to live on her own, she was introduced to drugs and became addicted.

After spending much of his 26-year career with the Maryland State Police fighting drug crimes, Davis said he was blindsided by his child’s addiction.

“At least half of my career I was actively fighting drug abuse, and I thought I knew what to look for,” he said, “but when it’s somebody in your family you make up all kinds of reasons.”

Davis said his family’s personal experience with drug addiction was eye opening, but explained that the signs are not always clear.

“I used to say, “How could you not see this?’” he said. “Now I know, unfortunately.”

The goal of the evening’s meeting, Davis explained, was to educate Snow Hill’s citizens on the warning signs and treatment programs available to them.

“For a long time we wanted to bury our heads and people wanted to say ‘We don’t have that problem here,’” he said. “Well, it’s here. Instead of sticking our heads down, we’re trying to expand our knowledge.”

At the old Green Street Firehouse, a handful of citizens listened to both Trader and Oglesby share statistics on the opioid epidemic, resources to combat addiction and first-hand experiences.

Trader said fentanyl is a growing danger to drug users and contributed to several overdose deaths around the state.

He explained that fentanyl-related deaths in Maryland grew from 17 in 2007 to 738 in the first nine months of 2016.

“I’m guessing you all know how big of a problem this is, or you probably wouldn’t be the one’s sitting here tonight,” Trader said.

Oglesby shared his own knowledge from the prosecution side of the heroin epidemic. He explained that heroin cut with fentanyl was more deadly than other drugs he has seen, and added that many do not realize the addictive and destructive path they are taking when they use for the first time.

“It’s a different ball game,” he said. “There is no going back.”

Oglesby said he believed the only way to successfully stop heroin use is to educate the public.

“No one is as responsible as us that are sitting here in the room right now,” he said.

Davis told members of the audience that they play an instrumental part in fighting the epidemic, and encouraged them to spread the word.

“Talk to our kids,” he said. “Talk to our brothers and sister. Get the information out and let them know how serious this stuff is. It’s not a game.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.