Fentanyl: Fatal ODs increasing

BALTIMORE – The Maryland Department of Health last week released data for unintentional drug and alcohol-related intoxication deaths through the second quarter of 2018. During this six-month period, which encompasses January through June of 2018, there were 1,325 total unintentional intoxication deaths, a 12 percent increase over the same period in 2017. Of these, 1,185 were opioid-related deaths in the state, including 1,038 fentanyl-related deaths.

Overdose deaths involving fentanyl continue to increase at an alarming pace. More than three-quarters of all overdose deaths in 2018 involved fentanyl, a trend that has continued since the first quarter of 2017, when the number of fentanyl-related deaths first exceeded the number of heroin-related deaths.

Cocaine-related deaths also continue to rise. Comparing the period January through June for 2016 and 2017, the number of cocaine-related deaths increased 47 percent. Data for the same period of 2018 shows a 54 percent increase over 2017. The increase in cocaine-related deaths can be attributed to cocaine combined with opioids, which were found in 90 percent of cocaine-related deaths so far in 2018. 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,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Robert R. Neall. “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. If you or someone you know needs assistance, know help is available 24/7 by dialing 211 then press 1.”

Heroin-related deaths decreased 20 percent in 2018 compared with the same January through June period in 2017. Prescription opioid-related deaths declined by seven percent in the first two quarters of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. Carfentanil-related deaths dropped from 46 to one during this period.

“We know that fentanyl is so powerful that just a small amount can be deadly,” said Clay Stamp, executive director of the Opioid Operational Command Center. “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.”

Fighting the heroin and opioid epidemic in Maryland has been a top priority of the Hogan-Rutherford administration.

The Maryland Department of Health, in partnership with the Opioid Operational Command Center, and other state agencies, continue to collaborate with federal, state, and local partners to fight to reduce the number of overdoses and resulting fatalities in a multitude of ways.

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