As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the United States, its effects extend far beyond the virus itself. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that during the 12-month period ending in September 2020, more than 90,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. This is the highest recorded number of overdose deaths in the U.S. over a 12-month period. Although drug overdose deaths were already on the rise, these numbers suggest a rapid increase during the pandemic.
Maryland has been hit especially hard by drug overdose deaths throughout the pandemic. In particular, fentanyl-related deaths in Maryland are at an all-time high. Understanding what’s happening and why is essential to combating the crisis.
Maryland’s Fentanyl Addiction Crisis
Maryland’s fentanyl addiction crisis has reached new heights during the pandemic. Data from the Maryland Department of Health reveals that the number of fentanyl-related deaths in the state significantly increased in 2020. Fentanyl was also the most common drug involved in the state’s opioid-related deaths during this time.
In the second quarter of 2020, there were 1,100 deaths involving fentanyl in Maryland — an 11.9% increase in the number of fentanyl-related deaths compared to the same period in 2019. Fentanyl-related deaths also accounted for 92.7% of all opioid-related deaths during the second quarter of 2020.
While fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Maryland have been increasing since 2013, this recent spike is a strong indicator of the pandemic’s influence on the problem.
How the Pandemic Has Impacted the Fentanyl Crisis in Maryland
There are several pandemic-related factors that may be contributing to the increase of fentanyl-related deaths in Maryland, such as:
Stress and Isolation
COVID-19 has changed people’s lives in a way that no one was prepared for. From employment layoffs to state-imposed lockdowns, people faced major challenges during the pandemic. The stress of these changes is likely a significant factor in new drug use and drug use relapse, as people try to find ways to cope with the emotional toll the pandemic has had on their lives.
Disruption to Life-Saving Addiction Support
While the need for addiction support is higher than ever, ensuring access to these services during the pandemic has been a significant challenge. Many people already struggling with fentanyl addiction have lost some or all of their essential support systems and treatments. Services like counseling and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) at treatment centers are crucial to helping those in recovery stay sober and helping those ready to start treatment.
In June 2020, the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center released a COVID-19 Inter-Agency Overdose Action Plan to address the fentanyl crisis amidst the pandemic. This plan includes strategies ranging from public awareness campaigns to expanding resources like housing recovery and peer support programs.
Contact MedMark Treatment Centers in Maryland
At MedMark, our doors are open to provide accessible and affordable fentanyl and other opioid addiction treatment to at-risk populations during the pandemic and beyond. Find the most convenient clinic location near you or contact us to learn more about our medically assisted treatment and counseling services.