BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The opioid epidemic is not at an end in Maryland.
The Department of Health released preliminary numbers Tuesday detailing a third-quarter 10 percent increase in the number of opioid-related deaths from 2017 to last year.
According to state data, deaths from drugs like heroin and cocaine went down from year to year. Health officials said a large concern is the amount of opioid-laced drugs they are now seeing, that includes cocaine and marijuana.
They said the spike is largely attributed to synthetic opioids including fentanyl, as fentanyl-related deaths see a spike year to year- from 17 in 2008 to nearly 1,500 in 2018.
“The crisis continues unabated, I’m afraid, based on the third-quarter numbers,” said Executive Director Opioid Operational Command Center, Steve Schuh.
The National Safety Council also found Americans are now more likely to die from an opioid drug overdose than a car crash.
Schuh says we may be seeing the worst of it right now.
“We are hoping that we are starting to see a plateau in the number of fatalities, but even more encouraging we’ve seen a decline in the number of fatalities related to heroin and a significant decrease in the number of prescription opiates being prescribed by physicians around the state,” Schuh said.
Statewide systems are being implemented to end the crisis, including programs now being geared in enforcement, treatment and education- even in grade school.
“They are prepared when they get in those situations for peer pressure from family may be using drugs to be able to say no and have the coping skills to deal with the peer pressure,” said Sgt. Aaron Penman, Harford County Sheriff’s Office.