(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) - Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford Tuesday joined with members of the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, elected officials, and substance abuse advocates for the first of a number of regional summits to address Maryland's growing heroin crisis.

The summit was hosted by Cecil County Executive Tari Moore and held in the Administration Building in Elkton, Md.

The Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, created by Governor Hogan in February 2015 with two executive orders and led by Lt. Governor Rutherford, is made up of law enforcement professionals, elected officials, and substance abuse experts. The group will meet regularly and solicit input and guidance from a wide variety of sources throughout the state, including educators, families of those suffering from addiction, and other vested stakeholders.

"We want to hear firsthand from Marylanders about how the heroin crisis has impacted their communities," said Lt. Governor Rutherford. "This is a problem that does not have an easy or overnight solution. This task force will employ every resource available in order to develop a holistic approach to fight this public health emergency."

In 2013, heroin-related overdose deaths (464) outnumbered homicides (387), a 95 percent increase in heroin-related overdose deaths since 2010. Preliminary findings for 2014 show overall heroin-related overdose deaths have continued to rise and will outpace those in 2013 by approximately 20 percent. There is growing evidence that many new heroin addictions stem from the abuse of prescription painkillers. Once addicted to these opioids, individuals may switch to increasingly cheap and "available" heroin.

"It's an honor to be selected to host the first regional summit for Maryland's Heroin and Opioid Task Force," stated Cecil County Executive Tari Moore. "I am pleased to share how hard Cecil County has worked to implement solutions to fight this battle, and what we believe future challenges will be. We stand ready to partner with the State of Maryland in moving forward."

Representatives from several counties, including Cecil, Harford, Kent, and Queen Anne's, attended today's summit.