ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Opioid-related deaths in Maryland in the first three months of 2019 were down more than 14 percent compared to the same period in 2018, a quarterly report from the Maryland Department of Health shows.

The health department and Opioid Operational Command Center released their findings from their quarterly report Tuesday, which showed from January through March, the state reported 577 total unintentional intoxication deaths, nearly 90 percent of which were opioid-related.

During the same period last year, 676 deaths were reported, 601 of which were opioid-related.

The vast majority of opioid-related deaths were primarily caused by fentanyl.

Heroin-related deaths were down 23 percent from 2018 and prescription opioid-related deaths were down 16 percent.

Howard County Opioid Deaths Fall By 26 Percent In 2018, Non-Fatal Overdoses Increase

Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties saw the biggest declines in opioid-related deaths, with 23 and 31 fewer deaths respectively.

Opioid-related deaths in Baltimore city, meanwhile, stayed nearly constant, with 225 reported in 2018 and 224 in 2019.

Washington and Calvert counties saw the biggest increase with seven more opioid deaths reported in the first three months of 2019 than the same period in 2018.

Baltimore City Commissioner of Health Dr. Letitia Dzirasa responded to the report’s findings later Tuesday:

“Deaths, as a result of opioid overdose, remain a public health crisis that the Baltimore City Health Department is committed to addressing.

My sincere condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one to substance use disorder.

Every life is valued. With that in mind, the Baltimore City Health Department supports a three-pronged strategy for combating the opioid crisis: administering naloxone in an effort to prevent fatal overdoses, increasing access to on-demand and evidence-based treatment, and fighting stigma around opioid use disorder with education.

“For those suffering from opioid use disorder, we offer a 24-hour crisis hotline that can be reached at 410-433-5175. We continue to offer free naloxone trainings at the Health Department and throughout the City. To learn more, visit http://www.dontdie.org.

We will continue to fight the opioid epidemic in an effort to prevent further lives lost.”

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