Understanding the Opioid Epidemic in Maryland

The far-reaching impacts of opioid use damages communities across Maryland, regardless of race, income level, or location. In recent years the governor of Maryland declared a State of Emergency in response to the opioid crisis ravaging the state, which remains in effect in 2021. While more resources are being directed towards combating the Maryland opioid crisis, there is much work to be done.

Read on to learn more about the history and present state of the crisis.

The History of the Most Recent Opioid Epidemic in Maryland

Wave One, Early 1990s to Mid-2000s: Prescription Drug Addiction

The latest opioid epidemic in Maryland began in the early 1990s. Pharmaceutical companies promoted opioid medications as the top choice for pain treatment. When taken in small doses for a short time, they were highly effective. But the pharmaceutical industry failed to tell the public about the dangers.

Doctors encouraged to promote patient satisfaction found that the simplest method was to prescribe opioids. Often unaware of the risks, doctors prescribed high doses for many months. As a result, many patients became physically dependent on opioids and experienced harsh withdrawal symptoms when they tried to stop taking their medication.  

Wave Two, Mid-2000s to Mid-2010s: Prescription Opioids to Heroin

In 2011, physicians began to cut back on prescribing opioids, and heroin use spiked. When cut off from prescription opioids, many patients suffering from dependence needed an alternative. Patients would look for alternative supplies of pain pills. Often, counterfeit pain pills were easy to find. Stamped pills made with heroin were cheaper than buying prescription opioids off the street.

Wave Three, Mid-2010s to Present: Fentanyl

The third and most deadly wave of the Maryland opioid crisis continues to hold the state in its grip. Fentanyl, unlike heroin, is a synthetic drug produced by the ton in China. Supplies are brought in through Mexico and then trafficked into the US. Fentanyl is 10x as concentrated as heroin (see picture below), making it vastly more efficient to move. But while the concentration makes fentanyl an ideal drug for traffickers, the tiny dose it takes to induce an overdose has caused the vast majority of overdose deaths since 2012. In 2021, there is very little heroin to find on the streets, it has been replaced by fentanyl.

Equivalent doses of heroin and fentanyl

Maryland Opioid Statistics

As awareness around the opioid epidemic in Maryland increases, more people are realizing just how severe and challenging the issue is. Individuals, families, and communities are all impacted by the crisis. This is why understanding the factors that contribute to the epidemic and developing ways to make effective treatment more accessible are crucial.

The Maryland opioid statistics below shine a light on the problem.

2020 Opioid Overdose Spike

During the first half of 2020, Maryland recorded 1,187 overdose fatalities. This represents a 9.4% increase over the same period last year. The pandemic’s economic consequences and interruption of medical services are drivers of addiction and overdose fatalities.

Opioids and Overdoses

In the first half of 2020, opioids were responsible for nearly 90% of overdoses. They are, by far, the most dangerous drugs.

Fentanyl Poses Extreme Dangers

Maryland opioid statistics show that fentanyl is involved in 92.7% of opioid overdose fatalities. Quitting fentanyl is lifesaving. Because fentanyl is often mixed into other street drugs, many take fatal doses without realizing the danger.

Fentanyl Replaces Heroin as the Most Dangerous

Fentanyl surpassed heroin in overdose deaths in 2016 and continues to rise. This has resulted in the third wave of the epidemic being the deadliest.

Baltimore in Crisis

Baltimore is the hardest hit city in Maryland. Over 50% of all the Maryland overdose deaths occurred there between 2007 and 2018.

Where the Maryland Opioid Crisis Stands Today

Overdose deaths are up over 9% this year, according to a joint report from the Opioid Operational Command Center and the Maryland Department of Health.

The trend of heroin deaths is declining, while fentanyl-related deaths have spiked. This is especially visible in the younger population; most of the fentanyl-related deaths occurred in the 25-34 age range.

In light of these and other staggering statistics, Maryland politicians have declared the opioid epidemic in Maryland a crisis. In fact, Governor Larry Hogan introduced the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Overdose Action Plan to serve Maryland residents in this trying time. It seeks to make emergency drug intervention more available during the pandemic. The Governor has promised to keep the Maryland opioid crisis at the top of the agenda.

Getting off opioids, especially fentanyl, becomes virtually impossible without medical intervention. Medication-assisted treatment from MATClinics allows clients to address their addictive behaviors without experiencing harsh opioid withdrawal.

A combination of behavioral therapy and medication in an outpatient setting helps to keep patients on track. Convincing those struggling with addiction to seek treatment is the key to saving lives.

Find Proven Treatment for Opioid Addiction at MATClinics

Opioid addiction is rarely defeated through willpower. The physical effects are too great. Medication-assisted treatment allows the body to safely readjust to life without illicit opioids.

Maryland opioid statistics show the drugs on the street today are more dangerous than ever. If you or a loved one are trapped in the opioid addiction cycle, don’t wait. Contact MATClinics for immediate outpatient therapy.

Speak to a member of our team to schedule a New Patient visit, or just to get more information.

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