More than 2,000 died of drug overdoses in Maryland in 2016

BALTIMORE (AP) — More than 2,000 people died of drug and alcohol overdoses in Maryland last year, an increase of 66 percent over 2015.

Calling the deaths a "grim tide," Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Dennis Schrader said in a statement Thursday that the statistics represent the largest single-year increase ever recorded in Maryland.

Health officials say the biggest increase in fatal overdoses comes among people 55 and older. Those deaths increased five-fold between 2010 and 2016, from 86 to 424.

Eighty-nine percent of all intoxication deaths were opioid-related. Opioids include heroin, prescription opioids, and nonpharmaceutical fentanyl.

Officials say efforts in Maryland to deal with the overdoses include a waiver to Maryland Medicaid to provide substance abuse services with federal Medicaid dollars.

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