Public Health Update: Heroin Overdose Deaths on the Rise; Rx Opioid Overdose Deaths Down

 BALTIMORE (December 7, 2012) – The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene today released data for the first seven months of 2012 that show an increase in overdose deaths related to heroin coinciding with a decline in overdose deaths related to prescription opioids. Overall, there were six percent more drug overdose deaths during the first seven months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

Following a decline from 2007 to 2011, there were 205 heroin-related overdose deaths in the first seven months of 2012, compared to 145 during the same period in 2011, an increase of 41 percent. At the same time, overdose deaths related to prescription opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone have declined by 15 percent, from 208 to 177.

Central Maryland experienced a 47 percent increase in heroin overdose deaths, while Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore have also seen substantial increases of 54 percent and 80 percent, respectively.

The shift from prescription opioid- to heroin-related overdose deaths may reflect a growing trend where individuals who abuse prescription opioids initiate heroin use. Public health and law enforcement authorities in Maryland and across the country are reporting that heroin is becoming a cheap, potent and accessible alternative to pharmaceutical opioids that are now more expensive and difficult to obtain for non-medical use. The largest increases in fatal heroin-related overdoses in Maryland have been among younger age groups, including a 53 percent increase among ages 15-24 and a 59 percent increase among ages 35-44.

“The rise in overdoses from heroin is a new and concerning trend,” said DHMH Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein. "By addressing this issue, we can continue the progress Maryland has made against drug addiction."

Maryland's public health response to this challenge will include:

Outreach to physicians and other health care providers to help them identify potential heroin users and refer them to effective treatment. Click here to read a letter sent to Maryland physicians;
Support for innovative local efforts to respond to drug overdose across the state; and
Development of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to provide support for referral to treatment.

Reducing drug-induced deaths is a major public health goal of Maryland’s State Health Improvement Process (http://dhmh.maryland.gov/SHIP).


 

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WCHD News

Thank you to all who came out for the 7th Annual Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk. So far this year's walkers have raised more than $33,000 to fund suicide prevention and awareness trainings, resources and projects. For more information on the walk or to donate visit: https://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.event&eventID=5531

 

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Fall into fitness this October and participate in the 6th Annual Making Strides for Awareness Fun Walk to be held at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, October 3 at Byrd Park in Snow Hill, Market Street. This is a free event co-sponsored by the Worcester County Health Department and the Town of Snow Hill. The first 50 registrants will receive a HOPE stadium cup. Registration begins at 5pm. Participants will have the opportunity to complete a ½ mile, 1-mile, or 2-mile walk.

Click the image below to register for this free event. 

Public Health Officials Offer Food Safety Tips in Preparation of Potential Power Outages and Flooding Due to Hurricane Florence

(Salisbury, MD) - As Hurricane Florence begins to make way across the Eastern seaboard, health officials of Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties recommend the following food safety tips for residents to help them prepare now, should local power outages or flooding occur.

• Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. For more information on generator safety, visit here.

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Residents who may have had contact should call the health department immediately


Snow Hill, Md. – The Worcester County Health Department confirms that a kitten has tested positive for rabies on August 29, 2018 on Snow Hill Rd (Rt. 12) north of Girdletree. The kitten was a female gray, black and tan striped tabby that was roughly eight-weeks-old. Residents of the property near where the kitten was found did not own the animal and the owners are unknown at this time.

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Ocean City, MD- Take a deep breath, Worcester County; this month Maryland celebrates the 10th Anniversary of the Clean Indoor Air Act. Maryland’s Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking in all indoor workplaces, including restaurants, bars, and clubs, to preserve and improve the health, comfort, and environment of residents by eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke.

For more information on the Clean Indoor Air Act, click here

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