Maryland opioid-related deaths dropped in first half of 2019

In 2017, Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency as part of Maryland’s efforts to deal with the opioid crisis.

More than two years later, a new report shows those efforts appear to be working.

  • Opioid-related deaths dropped 11.1% in the first half of 2019 — from 1,193 to 1,060 — compared with the same period a year before, according to the state’s Health Department and Opioid Operational Command Center.
  • Unintentional intoxication deaths totaled 1,182, a decrease of 11.3% from the first half of 2018, when they totaled 1,332.
  • Heroin-related deaths were down by 14.9% during the same period, from 471 to 401.
  • Prescription opioid deaths were down by 3.5%, from 202 to 195.
  • Fentanyl-related deaths, too, were down by 7.8% compared with the year before, from 1,043 to 962.

“Though the continued decline in fatal overdoses is welcome news, the heroin and opioid epidemic remains a crisis and we will continue to respond with all the tools at our disposal,” Hogan said in a statement.

Knocking down those numbers even further will involve targeting fentanyl. Of all opioid-related deaths during the first half of 2019, it was involved in 90.8% of them, according to the report.

“Prevention and providing treatment 24/7 continue to be our priorities,“ said Robert R. Neall, Health Department secretary, in a statement. “We’re continuing our efforts to get naloxone out into the community and to train people on how to use it.”

Maryland’s efforts to combat the epidemic have included expanding the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program as well as millions in grants to local health departments and treatment programs. It also established the Maryland Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force and the Inter-Agency Heroin and Opioid Coordinating Council.

They also include the Before It’s Too Late program, which offers resources to those struggling with substance abuse. If you’re one of them, read more about the program online or call 211 and press 1. You can also text your ZIP code to 898-211.

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