Maryland sees increase in substance deaths in 2020

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During the first two quarters of the year, there were 1,326 unintentional intoxication deaths from all types of drugs and alcohol in Maryland, according to a second-quarter report by the Maryland Department of Health and the Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC).

This was a 9.1 percent jump from the first six months of 2019. Opioids represented nearly 90 percent of the fatalities, a 9.4 percent increase.

During the first six months of 2020, prescription opioid deaths rose 8.1 percent compared to 2019, and synthetic opioid, fentanyl, deaths increased 11.9 percent.

Fentanyl accounted for 83 percent of intoxication-related deaths and 92.7 percent of opioid-related deaths.

Cocaine-related deaths increased 13.3 percent, and deaths from alcohol combined with other substances spiked nearly 35 percent.

“It is now clear that the coronavirus pandemic has had significant and detrimental effects on substance use trends in our state,” Steve Schuh, OOCC executive director, said. “Access to life-saving emergency services, substance use treatment, and recovery support have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. When you add the despair caused by economic uncertainty, you have a very difficult set of circumstances for Marylanders suffering from substance use disorders.”

OOCC released its Maryland’s COVID-19 Inter-Agency Overdose Action Plan in June.

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