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New PSA Aims to Spread Awareness of Heroin Addiction

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- As heroine addiction and overdoses increase across the state, Maryland officials are using the big screen to spread public awareness.

With heroin addiction wreaking havoc on families and communities across the state, Harford County officials are bringing the message of prevention to local movie theaters.

The video clips have already hit theaters in the county. The goal is to get parents to have real conversations about the dangers of heroin.

"She always loved to have fun, it didn't seem anything was wrong."

Movie-goers in Harford County are coming face-to-face with the grim reality of heroin addiction. A series of videos before their regularly scheduled films features people that have lost relatives to heroin overdoses.

"What better than to go into movie theaters when parents are with their children, to continue our efforts at prevention," said Barry Glassman, Harford County Executive.

The public service announcements aim to get parents and children talking about heroin, as the number of heroin overdoses and deaths continue to rise across the state.

From January to June 2016, there have 920 overdose deaths, compared to 601 deaths, during the same time last year.

Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County and Baltimore County are all seeing a drastic spike in use of the opioid.

"Here in Baltimore there are more people dying from overdose that are dying from homicide," said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.

Tanza and Jena have been in a lifelong battle with addiction.

"It started when I was 12 years old and the first time I stopped I was 29," said Tanza.

"Sad and lonely and living in a life that wasn't mine," said Jena.

Here in Baltimore City, the heroin problem was declared a public health emergency, as the drug continues to devastate communities and families.

"I feel like our family was given a life sentence of grief," said Toni Torsch, who lost son in accidental overdose.

A grief the videos may help prevent.

And health officials say heroin has never been cheaper or more deadly. In 2015, over 1,200 people died from overdose deaths in Maryland.

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