Lt. Governor Rutherford Hosts Maryland Stop Overdose Strategy Virtual Statewide Opioid Summit
Marylanders Share Personal Experiences of Opioid Crisis During COVID-19 Pandemic
Opioid Operational Command Center Releases Overdose Data
ANNAPOLIS, MD—Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford joined Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC) yesterday to host a virtual statewide summit to hear from Marylanders about the recent impact of the opioid crisis on their communities. The event was the final installment in the OOCC’s Maryland Stop Overdose Strategy Regional Town Hall Series, or Maryland SOS.
“This summit allowed us to once again hear directly from Marylanders and learn more about how our administration can further help those who so desperately need it,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “During the pandemic, overdose deaths reached historic levels, both in Maryland and across the country, but I am confident that if we all work together, we can overcome this epidemic and save lives.”
Nearly 100 people joined the summit as some attendees provided suggestions for how the state can effectively support individuals living with substance use disorder (SUD). Also, the OOCC shared updated data on overdose trends in Maryland through the third calendar quarter of 2021, and previewed goals to be included in the 2022-2024 Inter-Agency Opioid Coordination Plan. Upon completion, the plan will be made available for public comment.
“Our current environment remains very difficult for individuals who might be struggling with a substance use disorder,” said OOCC Executive Director Robin Rickard. “This continues to be a critical time for Maryland’s opioid crisis response efforts—a time that requires an all-hands-on-deck approach.”
Since 2021, 10 town hall meetings have been held in every region of the state. During the events, Marylanders highlighted the importance of promoting access to treatment and recovery services, youth prevention initiatives, addressing stigma surrounding individuals with SUD, and expanding access to naloxone, medication that can reverse opioid overdoses.
Maryland Overdose Trends (January – September, 2021)
According to preliminary data provided by the Vital Statistics Administration of the Maryland Department of Health, from January through September 2021, there were 2,129 fatal overdoses related to all drugs and alcohol, an increase of 2.6% compared to the same timeframe in 2020.
Opioids were involved in 1,904 overdose fatalities during this timeframe, nearly 90% of all fatal overdoses. Opioid-related fatal overdoses increase by 2.1% from the 1,865 such deaths reported during the first nine months of 2020.
Fentanyl continued to account for more overdose deaths than any other substance. There were 1,783 fentanyl-related fatal overdoses during the first nine months of 2021, up 3% from the same time frame in 2020. Fentanyl was involved in 83.7% of all overdose fatalities.