Photo via Wikimedia Commons

City Health Commissioner Leana Wen is doing everything in her power to fend off a boom in opioid abuse around Baltimore. This week, her department announced it had achieved a new milestone with one of her chief strategies.

More than 20,000 people in Baltimore are now trained to use the life-saving drug naloxone, according to a release from the Baltimore City Health Department. Wen has championed using the drug, which comes in injectable and nasal sprays forms, to combat the opioid epidemic in Baltimore since she took over as city health commissioner in 2015. All 20,000 of those individuals have been trained since January 2015.

As Wen noted in a statement, training people to use the overdose-reversing medication is only half the battle. “As we recognize today’s milestone, we see that while we made tremendous progress in saving lives in our city, our work is far from over and we have much more to do,” she said.

That’s because Baltimore has more than 25,000 opioid users. They were the number one killer – yes, well ahead of gun violence – in Charm City last year. To be more specific, drug overdoses killed 481 people from January through September 2016 alone, 88 more than in all of 2015.

Still, training a city to fight off a wave of deadly drug abuse deserves recognition. To celebrate hitting the 20,000-trainee mark, the health department held a naloxone training event and community celebration at the faith-based treatment center Helping Up Mission in Jonestown today. Feeding the progress, drug firm Kaléo donated 5,000 EVZIO naloxone injectors to the city at the celebration.

Dr. Wen has earned national praise for her public health campaign to train the populace to use naloxone. Click here to learn how you can receive her prescribed training to save a life.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...