Maryland’s Drug Situation Illustrates the National Problem with Heroin and Pills

Maryland map

Maryland has long struggled with a heroin problem. In fact, the Baltimore inner city has been renowned as a center of heroin abuse and addiction for many years. It’s not uncommon for multiple generations in the same family to seek help for addiction at the same time. But as opiate painkillers introduced a broad spectrum of people to a dependence on this type of drug, heroin abuse has followed and spread across the Maryland landscape. After all, there are drugstores in every town in every state in the US. And far too many states have unscrupulous doctors who are willing to make the money by selling prescriptions for addictive substances. The migration to heroin is seen as necessary when money sources dry up because heroin is so much cheaper than pills.

Even though Maryland already had a high rate of heroin abuse, recent news reports state that there has been an 88% increase in heroin-related overdoses in a two year period. This increase really takes the problem to a fever pitch in the state. Law enforcement is responding by chasing down those who are buying large quantities of drugs and health officials are dealing with it by educating people on treatment options and signs of overdose, as well as training first responders and others in Maryland communities on how to use Narcan, the drug that reverses an opiate overdose.

An odd trend has occurred among major drug dealers in the last several years. While the drug sales might still take place in inner cities or on street corners, the major drug dealers often take themselves to nice suburbs where they lead quiet lives. This is their response to the law enforcement pressure on the areas where drugs are usually sold. I note that in Maryland, the police just picked up four young adults for dealing large quantities of heroin into Maryland. The primary dealer lived in Denton, Maryland, a beautiful classic American town on the Choptank River. Colonial homes set on long green yards bordered by white fences are common in Denton.

These young men were just 22, 25 and 27 years old, with one being a little older, at 36. Did they get started with pills and then migrate to heroin use themselves? And when they were addicted, did they start dealing drugs just to pay the bills? I don’t know but this is a very common pattern.

One thing that is left out of stories about Maryland’s plan to fight heroin use is prevention. The Narconon network has decades of experience with drug prevention and we know how vital drug prevention is in overcoming a problem with high levels of drug abuse. If the youth are not well educated on the risks of using drugs, then there will always be another customer available for these drug dealers when one overdoses or goes to jail. Our youth must understand that use of any pill, any powder, any intoxicating substance can be their first step toward a life-long addiction. This topic should be covered both in schools and in homes.

We have plenty of information on our website to help parents and educators discuss this topic with youth.



Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.