Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) pledged Friday to work with local and federal officials to combat heroin overdose deaths in Maryland, which jumped to the highest level last year since 2007.
“We’re losing more Marylanders to heroin alone now than we lose to homicides,” O’Malley said. “That’s a pretty stunning figure.”
He spoke at a public forum in Cecil County, the latest in a series the state is helping coordinate on drug overdose deaths. Cecil now has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the state, even ahead of Baltimore, O’Malley told the crowd in Elkton.
“There are a lot of lives to be saved,” he said.
The total number of fatal overdoses from all types of drugs in Maryland increased to 761 last year, a 15 percent increase from 2011, according to state health department figures. That followed several year of declines.
The increase was drive by a 54 percent increase in heroin-related deaths. Officials said that reflected a national trend of drug users shifting from prescription opioids to heroin.
In 2012, 378 heroin overdose deaths were recorded. There were 377 homicides, according to preliminary data.