Wicomico Launches "Don't Tag Along" Campaign - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico Launches "Don't Tag Along" Campaign

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SALISBURY, Md.- The Wicomico County Health Department has launched its "Don't Tag Along" campaign in hopes of preventing opioid misuse and abuse across the area.

Mark Pruitt of Salisbury knows firsthand the dangers of misusing prescription drugs, something he started doing at the early age of 17.

At the time, Pruitt had two broken toes. He said he ran into the back of his sister's foot by accident. During his recovery, Pruitt was prescribed painkillers to help him cope, but he said the medicine did more harm than good.

 "After taking them [painkillers] for a few days, I thought everything was alright," Pruitt said. " Then, it became like, I wanted them more." 

Pruitt said he started taking more pills than prescribed, putting him in a state of numbness to physical and emotional pain.

"It was a sense of comfort, but I didn't know the damage it was doing," Pruitt said.

His addiction to opioids turned into an addiction to heroin. The 45-year-old has spent years trying to recover. He said heroin destroyed his life.

"It caused me loss of jobs, money, back to stealing things; just doing all kinds of things I said I'd never do," Pruitt said.

Pruitt tells WBOC he is now seeking help from Addiction Services at the Wicomico County Health Department, which recently launched its "Don't Tag Along" Opioid Misuse Prevention Campaign.

Using funding provided by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the department teamed up with an advertisement agency to develop ads that can be seen on buses, billboards and inside magazines.

According to the department's drug prevention coordinator, Cynthia Shifler, statistics in Wicomico County have grown grim over the years. In 2014, there were 20 drug overdose deaths; that is compared to nine deaths seven years ago. 

Shifler said the number of heroin-related treatment admissions rose from nine percent in 2010 to 23 percent in 2014. People between the ages of 21 and 25 are using the drug the most, according to Shifler. However, statistics based on people between the ages of 26 and 46 are on the rise.

Shifler tells WBOC the addiction can happen to anyone. She said questions need to be asked when painkillers are prescribed.

" We need to ask why we're taking it, how long should I take it, can I become addicted to it?" Shifler said.

The campaign started June 24 and ends Sept. 30.

Naloxone training is provided once a month for people who want to learn how to administer the drug that reverses overdoses. 

The next training is August, 11 from 6 until 7:30 p.m. at the Wicomico Public Library Meeting Room 3. 

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