According to the Maryland state government, many heroin users in the state are people who became addicted to prescription narcotics following an injury or surgery, then begin to use cheaper illicit heroin when they can no longer obtain prescriptions for legal opioids. (Courtesy of the Maryland state government)

Drug and alcohol overdoses in Maryland were up last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, which state health officials say was the likely cause.

Between January and September 2020, 2,025 people died of “unintentional intoxication,” up 12.1% from the same period the previous year, The Baltimore Sun reported.

At least 1,829 opioid-related deaths were reported during that period, up 14.5% from the same time in 2019, according to the state’s Opioid Operations Command Center and the Department of Health, The Sun reported.

The ongoing pandemic has exacerbated health and mental issues for many struggling with addiction, with access to medical care limited or cut off and economic woes increasing anxiety.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges for people suffering from substance use disorder,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement, The Sun reported. “People are hurting, and we must continue to increase access to care, particularly for our underserved communities.”

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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