Office of the State's Attorney

Worcester County, Maryland

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The Battle Against Opioid Abuse

What are Opioids?

Opioids are natural or synthetic chemicals that attach to receptors in the brain or body and decrease the perception of pain. Opioids can be found in heroin and prescription drugs such as hydrocodone (i.e., Vicodin), oxycodone (i.e., OxyContin), fentanyl, and codeine.

*Despite common belief, the use of prescription drugs in a manner not prescribed and/or recommended by a doctor is NOT SAFER than using illegal drugs. It is dangerous and can lead to serious complications, even death.*

What are some warning signs of abuse?

  • Weight Loss/Gain
  • Mood Swings
  • Decelerated Breathing
  • Needle marks or bruises at injection sites
  • Drowsiness and/or increase or decrease in sleep
  • Loss of interest in social gatherings and activities
  • Neglect in appearance and/or personal hygiene
  • Use of prescription medication in higher doses than prescribed
  • Use of excuses to get more prescription drugs before refill date
  • Use of different doctors to get more prescriptions

What are the signs of an overdose?

The number of overdose deaths in Maryland has been steadily increasing each year since 2010 . Unfortunately, the number of children using opioids, especially heroin, has also increased. Opioid overdoses are life threatening. If you witness someone experiencing an overdose, get medical help immediately. Recognize the signs:

  • Their face is extremely pale and/or feels clammy to the touch
  • Their body goes limp
  • Their fingernails or lips have a purple or blue color
  • They start vomiting or making gurgling noises
  • They cannot be awakened or are unable to speak
  • Their breathing or heartbeat slows or stops

What are some possible warning signs of illegal activity in a neighborhood?

  • Excessive amount of foot traffic and/or cars stopping to and from a property, especially at irregular hours
  • Visitors may make brief visits and may not even go inside, rather, someone meets them outside briefly
  • Loitering inside or around the house
  • Open exchange of items, especially when money is visible
  • Drug paraphernalia found in the area
  • Windows are covered so that neighbors cannot look inside

What are some possible warning signs of distribution?

Distributors are those who sell larger quantities of drugs to individual dealers or other, smaller distributors. They are the wholesale component, while dealers are the retail component. If the distributors are not taking the drugs themselves, they can be difficult to identify. A combination of the following indicators may be significant:

  • Expensive vehicles. Particularly when owned by people otherwise associated with a lower standard of living. Some distributors make it a practice to spend their money on items that are easily moved so they might drive a $50,000 car while renting a $20,000 unit.
  • Pagers and cellular phones. Particularly when used by people who have no visible means of support.
  • A tendency to make frequent late-night trips. Many people work swing shifts or have other legitimate reasons to come and go at late hours. However, if you are seeing a number of other signs along with frequent late-night trips, this could be an indicator.
  • Secretive loading of vehicles. Trucks, trailers, or cars being loaded and unloaded late at night in a hurried, clandestine manner. Load and distribution houses (most likely to be found in border states) are essentially repackaging locations and involve moving large quantities of drugs.

Need Help?

If you are struggling with opioid addiction, there is help available. Please call the Worcester County Department of Health at 410-632-1100.

Good Samaritan Rule:  Under the “Good Samaritan” Doctrine, if someone calls 911 in an effort to help during an overdose crisis, or they are experiencing an overdose, their parole and probation status will not be affected, and they will now not be arrested, charged, or prosecuted for: ​

  • Possession of a controlled dangerous substance​​
  • Possession or use of drug paraphernalia
  • Providing alcohol to minors

Want to report suspicious activity?

You can report suspicious anonymously activity to:

Worcester County Sheriff’s Office: 410-632-1111

Further Resources

Worcester County Department of Health

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Diversion Control Division

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Before It’s Too Late

For more information on opioid abuse and addiction, please visit