BALTIMORE (August 31, 2012) – Governor Martin O’Malley proclaimed August 31, 2012, Overdose Prevention Awareness Day in Maryland, acknowledging that, despite a decline in recent years in overdose deaths in the State, Maryland still faces challenges in combating overdose deaths, particularly those resulting from prescription drug abuse.
Between 2007 and 2011, the number of deaths resulting from drug and alcohol intoxication decreased by 22.3 percent, from 810 in 2007 to 629 in 2011. Notably, the number of intoxication deaths among African Americans during this period declined by 53 percent. However, despite this overall decline in deaths from intoxication, the number of deaths as a result of prescription drug intoxication increased by more than 10 percent.
“Prescription drug abuse is among the most critical public health challenges facing Maryland today,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). “We are actively working to combat this alarming trend.”
DHMH, along with federal, state and local partners, is working to address the threat of prescription drug abuse through the development and implementation of a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, as well as through enhanced coordination and enforcement against drug diversion.
In addition, the O’Malley/Brown Administration has made increasing access to substance abuse treatment a top priority. Earlier this summer, a report submitted to lawmakers by DHMH showed that the number of Maryland residents receiving outpatient substance abuse treatment services through DHMH's funded programs under Medicaid and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration (ADAA) has increased steadily from 63,834 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 to a projected 84,429 in FY 2012