Drug and alcohol overdose is a
major public health challenge in Maryland, with 663 associated deaths in
2011. Today, Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is
posting online the most comprehensive data report on this topic ever
released in the state.
The report, called Drug and Alcohol Intoxication Deaths in Maryland, 2007-2011,
uses the technical name for overdose of “intoxication death.” It
includes annual data from 2007 to 2011, broken down by involved
substances and county. It also provides initial data from 2012 through
report finds that since 777 Marylanders died of overdose in 2007,
overdose deaths have fallen among African-Americans and males, but have
remained more stable among whites and females. Until 2012, deaths
associated with prescription drugs were generally trending up, and
deaths associated with heroin were generally trending down. In recent
months, however, there have been signs of reversal in both of these
trends. Maryland counties with the highest overdose death rates include
Baltimore City, Cecil County, and Caroline County. Counties with the
lowest overdose death rates include Montgomery County, Prince George’s
County, and Howard County.
data in this report originated in the Office of the Chief Medical
Examiner. Maryland law requires the Chief Medical Examiner to
investigate all deaths occurring in the State that result from violence,
suicide, casualty, or take place in a suspicious, unexpected or unusual
manner. Toxicological analysis is routinely performed when there is
suspicion that a death was the result of drug or alcohol intoxication.
data analysis was conducted by the Department of Health and Mental
Hygiene’s Virtual Data Unit, led by Dr. Isabelle Horon. The methodology
in this report will guide ongoing analyses and releases of data down to
the local level.
new focus on surveillance of drug and alcohol overdose is part of a
public health approach to this challenge, which claims more lives in
Maryland each year than homicide. Across the state, jurisdictions are
using their data to guide the creation of overdose prevention plans.
Through expansions in access to effective treatment for substance use
disorders, enhanced recovery support, improved coordination with the
criminal justice system, and other overdose initiatives, we will aim for
significant, sustained progress.
Marylanders seeking access to drug treatment can access a directory of programs here, or call their local treatment coordinators, found here.