A picturesque city situated on the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, Annapolis is the capital city of Maryland. Home to the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis is a thriving metropolis with a relatively young median age of around 38 years old.
Annapolis has a large population of individuals between the ages of 20 and 40, and young adults commonly make up some of the highest percentages of people misusing drugs in the country.
Just like the rest of the country, Maryland residents are struggling with opioid abuse and addiction at staggering rates.
Opioid-related overdose deaths rates in Maryland are more than double national averages. In 2016, there were close to 30 fatalities per every 100,000 residents compared to the national average of 13.3 per 100,000 people, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports. Between 2015 and 2016, The Baltimore Sun publishes that drug and alcohol overdose deaths jumped up 66 percent, and the 2,089 overdose fatalities in 2016 represent an all-time high and the biggest recorded increase in state history.
Heroin use by residents aged 12 and older is nearly triple the national average, (according to numbers from 2014/2015. Between Jan. 1 and July 3, 2018, there were 62 opioid-related overdoses in the city of Annapolis, per the Anne Arundel County Maryland Department of Health (MDH). Clearly, opioid abuse, overdose, and addiction rates are a major concern in the city of Annapolis.
DRUG ABUSE TRENDS IN ANNAPOLIS
The Anne Arundel County MDH reports that at least one person dies in the county every day from an opioid-involved overdose. Opioid abuse and overdose death rates have been steadily rising in the country, state, county, and city in recent years.
The Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which includes Anne Arundel County, publishes that heroin, diverted prescription narcotics, and the synthetic opioid fentanyl are all major drugs of concern in the region. Crack and powdered cocaine are also considered local drug threats.
Access to many forms of transportation – such as boat, plane, train, car, and the U.S. Postal Service – can make drugs readily accessible and trafficking more prevalent. In May 2017, the Anne Arundel County Department of Health warned residents that counterfeit oxycodone tablets were circulating in the region. These blue or white tablets may look like prescription oxycodone; however, they actually contain the extremely potent opioid fentanyl, which is much stronger. It can, therefore, lead to overdose in much lower doses.
In 2014, there were more prescription opioid-related overdose fatalities in Anne Arundel County than anywhere else in the state other than Baltimore City and Baltimore County, the Anne Arundel County Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), 2015publishes. The report also showed that between 2010 and 2014, heroin-related overdose deaths tripled in Anne Arundel County.
The Capital Gazette reports that opioid overdose death rates are also rising as a result of synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and W-18, which is even more potent than fentanyl and coming into the country from China. Alcohol is the most commonly used drug of choice for youths in Anne Arundel County, as in 2013, a quarter of youths in the county reported drinking alcohol.
Marijuana comes in second, as 14 percent of Anne Arundel County youths reported using the drug in the month leading up to the 2013 survey. Marijuana use among youths between the ages of 12 and 17 is higher in the state of Maryland than nationally as well.
GOVERNMENT AND COMMUNITY RESPONSE TO DRUG ABUSE
On a statewide scale, Gov. Larry Hogan deployed the Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC) and declared a state of emergency in Maryland due to the opioid abuse crisis. OOCC works as a collaboration between local and state partners to prevent, treat, and enforce efforts related to the heroin and opioid epidemic sweeping the state.
The public awareness campaign Before It’s Too Late provides resources on drug abuse prevention, treatment services, and recovery support for Maryland residents. The Not My Child program is a local effort to bring awareness regarding prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction to residents of Anne Arundel County. Striving to improve the well-being of the community and its residents by increasing access to care and overall health improvement, the Healthy Anne Arundel Coalition is managed by the County Department of Health under the State Health Improvement Process (SHIP).
The Maryland Overdose Response Program (MORP) offers training to help residents recognize the signs of an overdose as well as how to safely reverse one with the administration of the opioid antagonist drug naloxone. The Good Samaritan Law in Maryland offers criminal immunity for residents who try to help someone during a drug overdose, either by reporting it or by administering aid or the opioid overdose reversal drug. All pharmacies in Maryland can dispense naloxone to those in need, even without a prescription, through the statewide standing order. First responders in Maryland carry the reversal drug, and the Capital Gazette publishes that naloxone was administered by county and Annapolis police officers 115 times in 2016.
There are also several prescription drug drop-off collection sites within the city of Annapolis where residents can drop off prescription drugs that are unused and unneeded. These sites help to keep prescription medications from being diverted and misused.
RESOURCES FOR DRUG ABUSE-RELATED SERVICES IN ANNAPOLIS
Maryland behavioral health care, which includes treatment and services for drug abuse and addiction, is managed through the MDH and local county health departments. The Anne Arundel County Department of Health oversees public health services for residents of Annapolis. Services are typically broken down into the following areas:
- Crisis intervention
- Treatment services
- Recovery support
Prevention efforts are managed through state, county, city, and community-based programs and coalitions, such as the Annapolis Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) Coalition. For crisis services, residents of Annapolis can go to a Safe Station at any time of the day or night, which includes all Annapolis fire stations as well as all Anne Arundel County fire stations and county police stations. Residents can also call the Crisis Warmline Addictions Helpline that is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to offer crisis support and referrals to services.
Drug abuse and addiction treatment services can take many different forms, ranging from outpatient programs to more comprehensive inpatient models. Treatment is highly individual and will not look the same for everyone. Public options offer care to all Annapolis residents, even those who may not have insurance or the financial ability to pay for services. Private treatment programs often accept insurance and self-pay methods, and they may be more readily available than public programs due to space.
Generally speaking, both public and private programs will offer the following:
- Case management
- Detox services
- Individual and group therapy sessions
- Medication management
- Relapse prevention and educational programs
The Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), provides information on local providers through a ZIP code search. The Anne Arundel County MDH also hosts information on local treatment & recovery services.
Support in recovery is important as well, and 12-step programs can provide social outreach, fellowship, relapse prevention tools, and sober peer interactions. Groups such as the Free State Region of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and the Annapolis Area Intergroup (AAIG) of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) offer peer support through local meetings and events for help sustaining abstinence in recovery.
Offering support to both survivors of opioid overdose and family members, the Overdose Survivors Outreach Services (ODSOS) provides resources and support for opioid addiction and recovery. The Anne Arundel County Department of Health’s Recovery Support Services Program helps residents who are at least 18 years old and referred through the Anne Arundel County Department of Health or another treatment provider who participates in the program, to transition from a treatment program into recovery by providing skills training and beneficial resources.
There are a variety of resources for Annapolis residents when it comes to drug abuse prevention, crisis services, treatment resources, and recovery support.