Fighting rise in overdose deaths and addiction requires addressing mental illness, too | READER COMMENTARY – Baltimore Sun

Fighting rise in overdose deaths and addiction requires addressing mental illness, too | READER COMMENTARY – Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore Sun recently shared the findings of the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center’s report that more than 2,700 Marylanders died due to drug and alcohol overdoses in 2020 (”A record number of fatal overdoses ravaged Maryland in 2020, ‘exacerbated’ by COVID pandemic, report shows,” April 13). As the director of addiction services for Sheppard Pratt, I have been on the front lines of the region’s opioid and substance use epidemic for many years. In that time, I have observed the human toll of this health crisis. Overdose deaths and the prevalence of individuals who struggle with addiction has grown exponentially since the early 2000s with a drastic increase around 2013. During this spike, government and community leaders of every level were alarmed, and, appropriately, mitigation efforts followed. Thanks to this groundswell of integrated care that included new legislation and funding for community programs and social services, 2019 was the first year in which we observed a slight decrease in overdose deaths.

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