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Maryland Opioid Overdoses Surged Once Again In First Half Of 2018 – What Will Happen In 2019?

Maryland Opioid Overdoses Surged Once Again In First Half Of 2018

The number of deaths caused by opioid overuse in the state of Maryland have increased in 2018 in comparison to the previous year. Specifically, the first half of 2018 had a higher death count compared the first half of 2017. Medical and government authorities are working to reduce the statistics for 2019 but how effective can they truly be?

National Opioid Overdose Crisis

The United States currently faces a public health crisis due to the growing problem of opioid addiction. The daily number of opioid overdose deaths in the nation reaches up to more than 130. The death rates of opioid overuse have grown since the increase of opioid medication prescriptions in the late 1990s, up to the point where in the year 2015 alone, 33,000 people died from opioid overuse.

Maryland Opioid Overdose Statistics

According to a report by the Maryland Department of Health, during the first half of 2018, which encompasses January through June, 1,325 people died from overall use of intoxicating agents, in comparison to 1,032 from the same period in 2017. From that number, opioid abuse caused 1,185 of those casualties.

A later report by the MDH that covered the first three quarters of the year saw the number increase to 1,848 casualties, with 90% of them caused by opioid overdose.


Out of Maryland’s opioid overdose statistics for the first half of the year, Fentanyl is the most prominent opioid as we’ve stated many times before. MDH identified fentanyl as the cause behind 1,038 deaths from the total number of opioid overdose deaths, nearly three quarters. Fentanyl’s growth is notorious since 2017, where the number of deaths caused by the drug was greater than the number of heroin-related deaths.

Fentanyl is infamous for being the deadliest opioid around. This synthetic opioid is 50 times more powerful than heroin, and it only takes a small amount to kill the user. Another concern around fentanyl is that, due to how easy and cheap it is to create, drug makers often mix it with other opioids such as heroin and cocaine, possibly contributing to the opioid abuse death statistics. This tendency surprised some cocaine users, as they relied on the relative safety of the drug, compared to fentanyl.


Cocaine is another opioid that saw a casualty increase in the first half of 2018. Compared to the first half of 2017, cocaine deaths have increased by 54%, making it the second most prominent drug found in opioid overdose deaths in the state, outpacing heroine. MDH attributes most of these deaths to the combination of cocaine with other opioids, such as fentanyl, since 90% of the cocaine-related deaths were meeting this condition. This combination of drugs is particularly deadly, since the cocaine speeds up the heart’s necessity for oxygen, while fentanyl slows down a person’s desire to breathe and take in more oxygen.

Other Opioid Casualty Statistics

In contrast to fentanyl and cocaine, the casualty rates for other opioids in Maryland has decreased compared to the first quarter from 2017.

  • Heroin deaths have reduced from 587 to 469, nearly 20% down from last year.
  • Prescription medication casualties, a major problem earlier on, have gone from 213 to 199, a 7% decrease from the previous year.
  • Deaths caused by carfentanil have dropped from 46 to 1, compared to 2017.

Efforts To Reduce Opioid Overdose Casualties

The state of Maryland, and the federal government, continue to ensure the decrease of opioid overdose casualty rates by 2019. Fentanyl is a large focus of these attempts. The methods used by law enforcement aim to target drug supply, while public health officials and medical experts are targeting drug demand.


The city of Baltimore, which had the highest opioid abuse death rate in the state at 483, has joined a program by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) alongside other cities that addresses the opioid overdose crisis. The DEA will collaborate with Baltimore to combat the crisis on multiple fronts. For instance, Baltimore’s Police Department and State’s Attorney office are working with the DEA to evaluate federal court cases and encourage longer sentences. In addition, recent legislation by Congress is placing more tracking guidelines on package mail from other countries, hoping to curb the flow of fentanyl entering the United States.

Not every piece of legislation passed criminalizes drug consumers, however. The Justice Reinvestment Act of 2016 allows for people charged with nonviolent drug crimes to avoid prison. This law provides those people with a better opportunity to seek treatment for their addiction.

Health Treatments

Maryland public health officials are working to increase treatment programs and efforts against the overuse of opioids. Some of the efforts in place include the increase of residential treatment beds covered by Medicaid and a state-funded Baltimore stabilization center that serves as a haven for drug users to seek medical treatment and other recovery resources.

Another one of these efforts is the increased use of medication-assisted treatment, which includes FDA-approved medications to curb the addictive effects of opioids and painful effects of withdrawal. One of the medications used is the mix known as buprenorphine naloxone, where the former prevents withdrawal symptoms and the latter blocks the effect of opioids. Another naloxone medication available is NARCAN, administered as an injection into the veins, into the muscle, or under the skin. However, a NARCAN dose is also effective as an anti-opioid nasal spray.

Fighting Against Opioid Overdose

While the increase of opioid overdose death statistics is intimidating, there are always places that will assist people struggling with opioid abuse. Maryland Recovery offers a safe, stable, and sober environment for patients coping with addiction, and uses a holistic approach to combat the addiction causes through the encouragement of healthy life skills.

If you or a loved one is going through opioid addiction, please contact Maryland Recovery immediately and we will help you every step of the way. Don’t go it alone!

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  • "I am certain that this program helped save my life. I was provided with an opportunity to learn how to live a sober life. I learned to be responsible and accountable for my behavior. When practicing the principles of the program and remaining willing to grow on this journey, I experience a freedom I never knew, but always wanted."
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