The number of people who died in Maryland from drug and alcohol related overdoses surged 66 percent in 2016, compared with 2015, exposing the magnitude of the growing opioid epidemic and the ineffectiveness of the increased resources aimed a stemming deaths.
The 2,089 deaths last year represent an all-time high, triple the tally from 2010, according to the data released Thursday by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Last year's jump is the state's largest recorded annual increase.
"The numbers are terrible and they are extremely disappointing," said Dr. Leana Wen, health commissioner for Baltimore City, which accounted for about a third of all overdose deaths in the state.
The city saw 694 overdose deaths last year, more than twice the 318 homicides recorded by police.
The greatest number of deaths, both in the city and statewide, were attributed to the illegal opioids heroin and fentanyl, a cheap and powerful drug pouring in from overseas that is typically mixed into heroin without the user's knowledge.
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