Drug abuse is a big problem in Maryland, and overdose deaths have been increasing for several years. The drugs causing the most deaths include opioids, cocaine, benzos, meth, and alcohol.

Fentanyl causes most of the overdoses in Maryland, but users don’t seek out fentanyl. Instead, they buy drugs laced with fentanyl, and that leads to the overdose.

The following are 5 of the most used drugs in the state of Maryland:

1. Opioids

Compared to other states, Maryland ranks 5th for fatal opioid overdose rates. Opioids include heroin, fentanyl, and prescription drugs such as oxycodone, codeine, and morphine. These drugs caused 89% of the drug and alcohol deaths in Maryland.

In 2017, 1,985 people died from opioids in Maryland. This equates to 32.2 deaths per 100,000 people. That is over double the national rate of six deaths per 100,000 people.

Often opioid abuse starts with prescription drugs. In Maryland, Doctors write 51.7 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people. Once addicted, users turn to the black market to buy more opioids.

With street drugs, you never know what you are getting, and these drugs often come mixed with fentanyl. This synthetic opioid is 50 times stronger than heroin, and between 2016 and 2017, deaths related to this drug increased by 42 percent.

Here are some facts about opioid use in Maryland.

  • 10% of black high school boys in Baltimore have tried heroin.
  • In Baltimore and Philadelphia, syringe exchange programs prevented over 12,000 cases of AIDS by helping users avoid dirty needles.
  • A man threw 300 bags of heroin into a stranger’s backyard, while the police were chasing him.

2. Cocaine

In 2018, 891 people died from cocaine overdoses in Maryland. Most of these deaths occurred in combination with opioids. About 82% of overdoses involved fentanyl, and 36% involved heroin.

Some users choose to combine cocaine and heroin. Called speedballing, mixing these drugs is a dangerous and often deadly practice. Cocaine is a stimulant, while opioids are depressants. The cocaine wears off first. Then, the user gets the full effect of the heroin. As that depressant kicks in, it can cause respiratory failure.

In other cases, users accidentally mix these drugs. They buy cocaine laced with fentanyl, and after unknowingly ingesting that drug, they end up overdosing.

Look at these shocking stories about cocaine in Maryland.

  • After smoking cocaine, a Maryland woman had a brain stem stroke and became paralyzed from head to toe. Doctors call this locked-in syndrome.
  • A woman in Manhattan ordered Sephora make-up from Baltimore. When she opened the box, she found cocaine wrapped in a dollar bill. The company told her to dispose of the cocaine and gave her $100 in credit.
  • Authorities found 333 pounds of cocaine at the Port of Baltimore. Worth $10 million, the drugs were in shipping containers full of beach chairs.

3. Alcohol

There were 472 acute alcohol-related deaths in Maryland in 2018. Also called alcohol poisoning, acute alcohol deaths happen from drinking too much alcohol very quickly.

Alcohol alone did not cause these deaths. Nearly 80% of alcohol-related deaths included opioids.

However, alcohol abuse doesn’t just lead to instant death. Alcohol also causes many fatalities on the road. Maryland has the 8th highest fatality rate for alcohol-related crashes in the country. One out of every three fatal crashes in this state involve alcohol.

In other cases, people suffer serious health problems after abusing alcohol for years. They include: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and several types of cancer.

4. Benzodiazepines

Used for treating anxiety, benzos include Valium, Ativan, Xanax, and Klonopin. Many people use these drugs to treat medical conditions. But over time, they become addicted. Others use benzos recreationally to feel relaxed.

In Maryland, 127 people died from taking benzos in 2018. About 116 of these deaths (91%) were related to opiods.

  • 56% fentanyl
  • 44% prescription opioids
  • 37% heroin

5. Methamphetamine

Meth lead to 32 deaths in Maryland in 2018. Again, opioids actually caused most of these overdoses. Fetanyl played a role in 82% of these deaths. Heroin was present in 47%. And about 9% included prescription opioids.

Are you taking these drugs? Do you know a loved one struggling with drugs in Maryland? If you or a loved one is struggling with drug abuse, you need to get help. Contact a treatment center in Maryland to learn about options. Don’t wait until drug use becomes drug abuse. Get help now. 


  1. https://health.maryland.gov/talbotcounty/Documents/Annual_2018_Drug_Intox_Report.pdf
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/opioid-summaries-by-state/maryland-opioid-summary
  3. https://www.baltimoresun.com/health/bs-hs-opioid-deaths-20180726-story.html
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191114124050.htm
  5. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-10/gwu-sep102919.php
  6. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/maryland/articles/2019-10-31/official-nearly-400-bags-of-heroin-seized-in-traffic-stop
  7. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/10402663/woman-paralysed-cocaine-only-blink-communicate/
  8. https://nypost.com/2019/10/24/makeup-artist-finds-cocaine-stash-in-a-box-of-sephora-beauty-products/
  9. https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/crime/bs-md-ci-333-pounds-cocaine-seized-baltimore-port-20190625-story.html

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