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Concert set to help raise opioid awareness

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The Music Center of Strathmore will host a benefit concert for Maryland Heroin Awareness Advocates on April 17.  COURTESY PHOTOThe Music Center of Strathmore will host a benefit concert for Maryland Heroin Awareness Advocates on April 17. COURTESY PHOTO  The opioid epidemic first hit home for Carin Miller after both her husband and son became addicted to painkillers.

The struggles of her family to deal with addiction led Miller, a resident of Mt. Airy, to start her own nonprofit foundation to help raise awareness for the issue and to help those addicted to opioids seek treatment.

“My children are good people with a bad disease and I would just like everybody to know that my children did not choose to become addicted,” Miller said.

On April 17, the Music Center at Strathmore will host a benefit concert for Miller’s organization, Maryland Heroin Awareness Advocates. H. David Meyers, professional oboe player and Miller’s boss at AgriSmart, a Rockville-based agricultural company, helped organized the concert arranging for his musician friends to perform in order to raise awareness for opioids.

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Local officials unimpressed by Trump’s tough talk on opioid crisis

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WASHINGTON — Despite President Trump’s unveiling of a three-prong strategy to combat opioid addiction and his claims that his administration is “involved more than any administration, by far” in efforts to end the nationwide opioid epidemic, Montgomery County officials and a member of President Trump’s own opioid commission remain unconvinced that an executive branch led by a President who dismisses the efficacy of his own presidential commission while calling for the death penalty for drug dealers is truly committed to fighting opioid abuse.

The new plan comes nearly three weeks after the White House held an opioid summit featuring cabinet secretaries and officials from various executive branch agencies who highlighted their accomplishments over the past year and previewed future plans for an audience of addiction treatment professionals, law enforcement, and ordinary Americans who have been affected by the epidemic or lost loved ones to it.

“The administration is going to be rolling out policy over the next three weeks, and it will be very, very strong,” Trump said while speaking toward the end of a White House’s opioid summit, which featured cabinet secretaries and officials from various executive branch agencies who highlighted their accomplishments over the past year and previewed future plans for an audience of addiction treatment professionals, law enforcement, and ordinary Americans who have been affected by the epidemic or lost loved ones to it.

The March 1 event was emceed by Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager and one of the few senior advisors who has been with him since he became President in January of last year. Trump selected Conway, a veteran GOP pollster, political consultant and television pundit, to be the White House’s “opioid czar” in November despite her lack of qualifications or experience in medicine, public health or any other relevant field.

Nevertheless, Conway boasted that the administration has made “great progress” against opioids thanks to the work of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis and Trump’s decision last year to order then-Acting Health and Human Services Secretary Don Wright to declare the crisis a Public Health Emergency. But Trump himself seemed to dismiss the idea that implementing the recommendations of his own commission would be effective in reducing the opioid scourge’s effects on the nation.

“If you want to be weak and you want to talk about just blue-ribbon committees, that’s not the answer,” said Trump, who then suggested that a solution could be found in harsher punishments – not prevention or treatment.

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County prepares opioid suit

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MoCo LogoROCKVILLE – Montgomery County has taken a significant step towards filing a lawsuit against manufacturers of prescription opioid painkillers by hiring the San Francisco-based law firm of Robbins, Geller, Rudman and Dowd LLP as outside legal counsel to conduct the suit, County Executive Ike Leggett announced last Wednesday.

“Every day brings fresh evidence of the very real damage that the Opioid crisis in wreaking on individuals and communities throughout our great nation,” Leggett said in prepared remarks. “I wish I could stand here and tell you that Montgomery County is immune to this epidemic. Unfortunately I cannot do that.”

The announcement is the latest step Leggett has taken towards filing the civil action against prescription opioid manufacturers, which Leggett accused of violating marketing laws by downplaying the addictive nature of their products.

Not only will Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd help represent the County in its forthcoming action – which Robbins Geller attorney Aelish Baig said the County will file in early January -- but it will also help the County wrap up its own investigation into prescription opioid manufactures.

“Just what the lawsuit will look like is currently unfolding, but we will take the action, if necessary, to ensure we stop this very addictive process,” Leggett said.

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Local Rotary clubs begin programs to battle drug addiction

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Rotary logoThe Rotary Clubs in Central Maryland and Washington, D.C., last week kicked off an educational program designed to help prevent future drug overdoses and deaths.

The 61 rotary clubs, representing more than 2,000 members, are making the opioid crisis a high priority in the coming year by using their members’ connections in the community to fight drug abuse, they announced July 26 during a news conference at Snowdens Funeral Home in Rockville.

The rotary clubs will focus on middle and high school students and already have reached out to County officials and school board members, said Greg Wims, the newly elected governor of this area’s clubs.

“Family members leave their unfinished medications in their medicine cabinet for two or three years,” Wims said.

“We want to teach fifth-graders to tell their family to discard” the unused medicines before the youngsters take them to get high or try and sell them, he said.

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County tries to deal with growing opiod epidemic

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ROCKVILLE – Montgomery County Assistant Police Chief Russ Hamill said he first became aware of the severity of the nationwide opioid crisis at a drug summit put on by the Police Executive Research Forum.

At the summit, Hamill met a police chief from a city in the Northeast, who said two of her officers stood by helpless as teenaged, high school cheerleader with a 4.0 grade point average overdosed on opioids. The police chief then told Hamill that the women who died from the overdose was her daughter.

“It drove the fact home, it drove the point home for many of us,” Hamill said. “Now, it don’t matter who’s daughter it is, who don’t matter who’s friends it is, it’s a humanbeing and all human life has extreme value.”

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