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Heroin and prescription deaths go down, Fentanyl deaths rise

  • Charles County,St Mary's County,Calvert County
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Annapolis, MD - On Tuesday, Jan. 15, the Maryland Department of Health released its 2018 Third Quarter Fatal Overdose Data. The third quarter report consists of data throughout the state on unintentional drug and alcohol-related intoxication deaths.

1, 848 unintentional intoxication deaths occurred in the state through the third quarter, 8 percent more than the total of 1,709 from the same period in 2017. However, this rise at the state level is not necessarily representative of Southern Maryland (Calvert, St. Mary’s and Charles counties).

Calvert County showed no change in Drug and Alcohol Intoxication deaths compared to the same period in 2017 at 19 overdose deaths. Though the county saw no change in the Jan.-Sept. time period, according to the information on the Calvert County web site, the county saw a decrease throughout the year as a whole. The 2017 BHA report shows that Calvert had 32 overdose deaths, the ninth lowest in the state and lowest in Southern Maryland. This is five less than the 27 overdoses reported on the county’s website.

St. Mary’s and Charles counties both saw decreases when comparing the period over the past two years. St. Mary’s had 25 fatal overdoses last year, through September, compared to 29 in 2017. Charles had only 18, the lowest in Southern Maryland, compared to 27 in 2017. When you take into account that Charles has the largest population at 159,700 residents, having the lowest number of fatal overdoses means more than just the one-point difference between its number and Calvert’s.

One of the key takeaways from the results is that the state saw a decrease in heroin and prescription opioid-related deaths. In the Maryland Department of Health press release that went with the release of the report, State Health Secretary, Robert R. Neall said the state has “seen a continued decline in heroin-related deaths since the third quarter of 2017, but despite that positive trend, fentanyl-related deaths and cocaine-related deaths in combination with opioids continue to surge." Along with the increase of fentanyl overdoses, cocaine overdoses also rose.

One of the big 2018 initiatives in Maryland was the ODMap technology platform that “allows emergency medical services providers and law enforcement officers to input and share data about opioid overdoses. This enables first responders to track this information and allocate public health resources.”

The release concluded by stating, “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.”

Contact Jerold Massie at staffwriter@thebaynet.com.

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