Agency says fentanyl found in most overdose deaths.
Baltimore, Md (KM). There’s been a shift in Maryland when it comes to fatal overdoses. Third quarter figures released by the Maryland Department of Health covering January through September, 2017, found that overdose deaths from physician-prescribed opioids declined. “The shift in the crisis that we believe developed from prescribed opioids where a lot of the protections are starting to work and we’re starting to see that number of individuals reduce, and that’s good news,” says Clay Stamp, the Executive Director of the Opioid Operation Command Center.
Heroin deaths are also dropping, but fentanyl-related fatalities and those from cocaine taken with opioids are on the increase. “The challenge is that a significant number of people that are now in that illicit drug market which is very dangerous because upwards to 60% to 70% of all fatalities are now related to fentanyl,” says Stamp.
According to the report from the Health Department, there were 1,501 opioid-related deaths in the state during the first nine-months of last year, and that included 1,173 fentanyl-related deaths.
Anyone who has an addiction problem and realizes they need help should call the Maryland Crisis Hot Line at 1-800-422-0009.
Stamp says one barrier preventing a lot of people from calling is the stigma related to drug addiction. He says the addicts and their families and friends need to get past that. “The way we’re going to combat that stigma or fear to say something about it is by elevating the conversation and saying ‘it’s okay. I know your son has an issue with addiction. How can we help? Let’s talk about it,'” he says.
Naloxone or NARCAN has helped make a different in saving the lives of those people experiencing overdoses. But Stamp says that’s not enough. “Naloxone saves lives. But we must take the opportunity to offer people that have been revived opportunities for follow up treatment. Because without doing that, we destined to repeat that over and over again,” Stamp says.
One problem with the War on Drugs is that it’s lost momentum, Stamp says.. . “The only way we can really alter this crisis is by removing demand,” he says. “The only we can remove demand is by having our young people grow to a place where they say ‘this is no longer cool and we’re not interested.’ And demand goes away.”
Stamp says that’s what happened when it came to smoking. He says many young people found smoking cigarettes not cool, and the demand for tobacco products dropped.
By Kevin McManus