The United States is facing an unprecedented opioid overdose and addiction crisis. Over 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021, with opioids involved in nearly 80% of these tragic deaths.
Beyond the staggering loss of life, the epidemic has devastated families and communities across the country. Yet stigma, outdated laws, and lack of treatment access prevent us from adequately addressing this public health emergency.
In Maryland specifically, overdose deaths rose by 15% in 2021 to a record high of 3,660. Opioid-related fatalities accounted for 90% of these, with fentanyl present in most cases. Our state has been hit painfully hard, but we are not yet meeting this crisis with the urgency and compassion it demands.
Criminalization of addiction and punitive law enforcement tactics have not reduced substance misuse. Incarceration disrupts lives without treating root causes. We need compassionate, evidence-based solutions centered on harm reduction, treatment, and recovery.
How We Will Solve the Problem Together
As your Senator, I will advocate for a health-focused approach to end the opioid epidemic and save lives.
First, we must expand medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and wraparound services to help people overcome addiction. Treatment capacity needs to meet the scale of the crisis.
I will fight to increase Maryland’s behavioral health workforce to eliminate treatment waiting lists. And I will boost funding to organizations providing peer recovery services across the state.
Second, implementing overdose prevention sites, distributing Narcan, and providing test kits for fentanyl and other contaminants will prevent fatalities. Harm reduction works.
Maryland should launch an overdose prevention site pilot program focused on the cities hardest hit by this epidemic. Increased Narcan distribution and access to test strips must also be prioritized.
At the same time, disrupting international drug trafficking networks can help reduce the supply of illicit opioids like fentanyl. This should be done carefully to avoid worsening the crisis. The priority must remain public health solutions focused on harm reduction, treatment, and destigmatization. But supply interdiction can play a limited, careful role.
Finally, we need to reshape attitudes and policies to recognize addiction as a disease, not a moral failure. Criminal penalties for simple possession must be removed nationwide to reduce stigma.
How We Will Advance the Issue in Washington, DC and Maryland
In Congress, I will fight to lift restrictions on medication-assisted treatment and significantly boost federal funding for evidence-based addiction services.
I will support legislation to establish a national standard for harm reduction services, overdose prevention sites, Narcan access, and decriminalization.
In Maryland, I will work closely with county and city officials to establish pilot overdose prevention sites and expand recovery housing. My office can help direct federal resources to the communities hardest hit by this epidemic.
And I pledge to listen to those with lived experience and be guided by their needs in developing solutions. Those closest to the crisis must shape the policies.
The Benefits for America and Maryland
With compassionate, health-focused solutions, we can overcome the opioid epidemic while saving lives and families. Removing stigma and meeting people’s needs where they are will strengthen our social fabric. And stemming this crisis will boost our economy, workforce, and communities. But most importantly, we will affirm the dignity and humanity of all Americans.
In Maryland specifically, an effective public health approach to addiction will save thousands of our residents. It will keep families intact and give struggling Marylanders real opportunity. By tackling this crisis with care and compassion, we can build a stronger future together.