Opioid overdose traffic signs remind drivers of epidemic

WASHINGTON — Three street signs in Charles County are unlike most drivers have seen before: Their purpose is to alert people to the local impact of the opioid epidemic by the numbers.

The giant signs displaying the number 219 are sobering.

“Just by looking at the numbers on the sign board, it really brings to light the reality that does exist — that heroin and opioid addiction is an epidemic,” said Diane Richardson with the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Troy Berry saw other agencies across the country using signs as a way of presenting the local impact of the epidemic. Deputies will update the signs with the latest numbers, so commuters will see the change in real time.

The signs, which went up two weeks ago, are in Waldorf and La Plata next to the sheriffs’ stations, along with several other locations throughout the county.

“We were able to save 83 lives by administering Narcan; however, 27 lives were lost due to heroin and opioid overdoses. The remaining 109 overdoses were dispatched and responded to, however there was no need to administer Narcan upon Police/EMS arrival. We are working to bring these numbers down through efforts in several areas,” Richardson said in a release.

Reaction has been mixed to the signs, though. Richardson said they are hearing from family and friends of those affected by heroin and opioids, who are either addicted or overdosed on the drugs.

“Our goal is that people will change how they think about it. We want people to talk about it,” Richardson said.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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