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Statewide Efforts In Place To Combat Heroin Overdoses

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Despite a statewide effort to fight against the epidemic, heroin overdoses and deaths continue to rise in Maryland.

Killing almost 100 Americans every day, heroin is now considered a public health emergency.

President Obama took note of the epidemic earlier this year.

"The only way that we reduce demand is if we're providing treatment," the president said.

Maryland is one of many states working to combat the growing number of heroin related deaths and overdoses--from a treatment facility in Baltimore, to controversial billboards and PSAs.

WJZ spoke with a Frederick County mother who lost her son to addiction. She says she is upset with the message put up by county health officials.

"I honestly don't think it was their intention to hurt anybody," she said.

Overdose deaths around the Baltimore region spiked between January and June of this year, surpassing 2015 numbers--and they're expected to get worse.

Now, in the latest effort to fight the epidemic, the Harford County Sheriff's Office and University of Maryland Medical Center have agreed to share overdose information in the hopes of mapping out drug spots across the region.

"We can't fix a problem if we don't know what the entire problem is," said Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler.

This agreement is the first of its kind in the state and will still protect patient privacy. It will provide dates of treatment, sex, race and the patient's city.

"We recognize the challenges that this epidemic causes for us and our communities and our hospitals, and we wanted to be very supportive," said Lyle Sheldon, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health.

Police say the goal is to use this new data to see where drug use may be trending, that way police can possibly find drug dealers and take them off the streets.

Harford County officials say they've already surpassed the number of heroin overdoses and deaths from last year.

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