Yesterday, I received a Twitter message from Josh Sharfstein, MD, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Maryland, about heroin trade in the US and in particular in NYC, which serves as an east coast distribution center. He referenced an article in the New York Times stating that the drug trade is at its highest level in 20 years.
In Maryland, the numbers are rivaling the rest of the east coast cities and states. The heroin is coming out of Mexico in record amounts; and as a result, it's really cheap. This information was verified by Major Jim Pyles of the Maryland State Police just a few weeks ago when he and I were talking about what's new in our respective jobs. Jimmy said that he has never seen it this bad in Maryland, especially western Maryland.
I then reached out to the folks at WMHS and learned that we are seeing a significant increase in both lethal and non-lethal heroin overdoses. Rob Flint, MD, our Chairman of Emergency Medicine, at WMHS said it's bad, but it was really bad a few months ago when seeing Fentanyl-laced heroin overdoses that actually killed a number of folks in the Pittsburgh area.
Even with the increase in heroin trafficking, that hasn't slowed the overuse and abuse of prescription drugs and the subsequent overdoses and resultant deaths from these drugs either. If law enforcement can get a handle on drug trafficking in our area, it would be interesting to see the reductions in related crime such as robberies, thefts, fraud and even gun violence, along with the reductions in overdoses and drug related deaths.