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Maryland Opioid Overdoses Increase 14.8%

From the Baltimore Sun

Opioid overdoses in Maryland increased 14.8 percent in first six months of 2018

by Andrea K. McDaniels

The number of opioid overdoses in Maryland increased 14.8 percent in the first half of the year as public health officials and others continue to struggle to get a handle on the epidemic.Opioid overdoses killed 1,185 people statewide from January to June, compared to 1,032 during the same period last year, according to data released Friday by the Maryland Department of Health.

The powerful opioid fentanyl was laced in the drugs in most of these deaths. More than three-quarters of all overdose deaths involved fentanyl.

“We know that fentanyl is so powerful that just a small amount can be deadly,” said Clay Stamp, executive director of the state’s Opioid Operational Command Center, in a statement. “And it’s so important now, more than ever, that we continue our fight against the opioid crisis — making Marylanders aware of the dangers of this illicit drug.”

The total number of people who died from intoxication deaths was 1,325, a 12 percent increase over the last year.

Cocaine-related deaths also continued to rise, increasing 54 percent from last year. The increase in cocaine-related deaths can be attributed to cocaine combined with opioids, which were found in 90 percent of those overdose cases this year, according to the health department.

Cocaine-related deaths now outpace heroin-related deaths, making cocaine the second most prevalent drug among overdose deaths.

“Addiction affects families and individuals of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds,” Maryland Health Secretary Robert R. Neall said in a statement. “The Maryland Department of Health, along with our state and local response partners, will continue to improve and expand treatment and prevention options for all Marylanders.”

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