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Maryland reports record number of opioid related overdose deaths during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 9:09 AM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 09:17:28-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland reported a significant increase in drug overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between January and December 2020, there were 2,773 unintentional intoxication deaths involving all types of drugs and alcohol.

That's a 16.6 percent increase from the 2,379 deaths reported in 2019.

Officials believe COVID-19 played a critical role, due to the economic stress, despair, and uncertainty it has caused among vulnerable populations.

“This has been a challenging year for us all, and Marylanders suffering from substance use disorder have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Our administration will not waiver in its efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Just as we have made tremendous progress against COVID-19, I am confident that we will also reverse the recent trend in opioid-related fatalities. We have the tools, and we have seen them work before.”

According to the report, opioids were involved in 90.1 percent (2,499) of all fatal overdoses in 2020, which is an 18.7 increase from 2019 and the highest rate of any time during the opioid crisis.

The surge was largely driven by the growing prevalence of fentanyl, which was involved in a historically high 93.1 percent (2,326) of all opioid-related deaths.

There was also an increase in deaths involving prescription opioids for the first time since 2016.

Heroin was the only major substance category that saw a decrease, a continuation of a trend that began in 2017.

Overall, opioid-related fatalities in 2020 increased across all demographic groups.

“Many factors can lead to disparate health outcomes, including stigma, education, poverty, and trauma. Marylanders of any race, age, or gender can find themselves without access to needed treatment as a result,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford.

Read the entire report below.