The Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center issued its “Opioid Operational Command Center Annual Report January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018” on May 9, 2019, stating, “We have found that the rate of increase in the overall number of opioid-related fatalities has slowed for two years in a row to the slowest rate of growth since 2011. We are seeing sharp declines in the number of heroin-related and prescription opioid-related fatalities. Despite these encouraging trends, fatalities continue to increase in Maryland. In 2018, 2,114 of our family members, friends, and neighbors died from opioid overdose. The vast majority of these fatalities were caused by fentanyl and its analogs.”
The Report’s Findings
The total number of unintentional intoxication deaths from all types of drugs and alcohol in Maryland in 2018 was 2,385, an increase of 4.5 percent as compared to 2017. Opioids accounted for 88.6 percent of all such fatalities. The number of opioid-related deaths in Maryland in 2018 was 2,114. This was the second consecutive year in which opioid-related fatalities exceeded 2,000. The rate of increase from 2017 to 2018 was 5.2 percent. This is the second year in a row that the rate of increase in opioid-related fatalities was less than 10 percent.
Heroin-related fatalities in 2018 fell by 23.7 percent. 2018 was also the second year in a row that heroin-related fatalities declined in Maryland.
The number of fentanyl-related deaths in Maryland in 2018 was 1,866, an increase of 17.1 percent. Fentanyl and its analogs accounted for approximately 88.3 percent of all opioid-related fatalities in 2018. The rate of increase in the number of fentanyl-related deaths decelerated for the second year in a row.
The number of prescription opioid-related deaths in Maryland fell for the second year in a row. There were 371 prescription opioid-related deaths in Maryland 2018, a decline of 10.2 percent.
The number of cocaine-related deaths in Maryland increased by 27.9 percent to a total of 784. This is the third straight year of significant increases in the number of cocaine-related fatalities. Approximately 88.7 percent of all cocaine-related fatalities in 2018 was in combination with fentanyl.
Every Maryland jurisdiction experienced opioid-related fatalities in 2018. Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County experienced the highest number of fatalities, which collectively accounted for 64.5 percent of all opioid-related deaths in Maryland in 2018.
Thirteen of the 24 local jurisdictions in Maryland experienced a decline in the number of opioid-related fatalities in 2018. On a population-adjusted basis, the three most heavily impacted jurisdictions in Maryland in 2018 were Baltimore City, Cecil County, and Allegany County. The state average was 20.7 fatalities per 100,000 population.
In announcing the release of the Opioid Operational Command Center’s 2018 report, its executive director attempted to put a positive spin on the disheartening statistics contained in the report: “Since Governor Hogan declared a state of emergency in response to the opioid crisis in March 2017, Maryland has made tremendous progress in implementing prevention and educational programs, stepping up enforcement, and expanding treatment and recovery programs throughout the state. The Opioid Operational Command Center monitors more than 200 performance measures pertaining to programs and best practices, and, as you will see in this report, virtually all of those measures are moving in a positive direction.”
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