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Maryland's Opiate Problem

In 2014, The US Drug Enforcement Agency stated that Baltimore had the highest per capita rate of heroin addiction in the US. The Baltimore department of health stated recently that there are 60,000 drug addicted persons in the city, this, in a city with a population of 645,000. 48,000 of those are addicted to heroin. Heroin deaths in Maryland more than tripled in four years from 247 in 2011 to 748 in 2015. In the same time period, Fentanyl related deaths went from 26 to 340, more than thirteen times as many deaths in just 4 years.

Baltimore City leads the state with a higher death rate from drug overdose than any county or other city. (Baltimore's rate is actually more than five times the rates of some counties.) While most states experience more deaths from non-drug related vehicle accidents, Maryland is one of the states in which drug induced deaths exceed motor vehicle deaths

In response, according to a report in The Baltimore Sun, police in MD are being trained in the use of Naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of heroin or other opiate overdoes. While the use of Naloxone doesn't help to solve the overall problem, it does save many lives. One former Maryland emergency room physician said she has used naloxone hundreds if not thousands of times. Many of those times were repeats, persons who'd had the same drug administered to them on multiple occasions.

Response from the governor's office has been swift. One month after taking office, Governor Larry Hogan addressed the Maryland opiate problem by establishing the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force as well as a separate Interagency Coordinating Council for the purpose of combating the increasingly pervasive dilemma.

Maryland has also joined in with many other states in implementing the Prescription Drug Monitoring System, PDMP. The PDMP is a state-run electronic database that is accessible by law enforcement, physicians and pharmacies in order to track the dispensing and prescription of certain addictive and/or abused drugs.

In the end, these numbers are more than alarming. The most effective actions to take have been shown to be two-fold: diligent and effective drug abuse prevention education and long term drug addiction rehabilitation.

Illicit Drug Use in the Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older in Maryland, by Substate Region: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2010, 2011, and 2012 NSDUHs (Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health)

The annual report by the Maryland's health department revealed that the number of heroin-related overdose fatalities increased by 18 % last year, from 392 to 464 in 2013.

Maryland State Government Agencies

Drug Abuse Facts

Drug Abuse Information

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