From mountains to beautiful waterways and coastlines, Maryland’s serene landscape makes it an inviting place to live. But despite this peaceful environment, many Marylanders are experiencing the immense pain of drug abuse, especially the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic.

As the opioid epidemic continues, access to comprehensive addiction treatment options in Maryland is even more important. Fortunately, Maryland residents can access treatment that includes services for detoxification, inpatient residential treatment and outpatient care. In addition to opioids, these programs treat addictions to other drugs like alcohol, cocaine and benzodiazepines.

Substance Abuse Trends In Maryland

Drug and alcohol abuse is damaging in many ways, the greatest of which is overdose deaths. In 2016, 2,089 Maryland families lost loved ones to a drug- or alcohol-related death. This number climbed 156.3 percent, from 815 deaths in 2007. After opioids, alcohol, cocaine and benzodiazepines were responsible for the greatest portion of these deaths.

This is a statewide problem, however certain areas are harder hit than others. Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel saw the highest rates of overdose deaths in the state.

Drug-overdose deaths spiked in people aged 55 and older. From 2010 to 2016 the death rate in this age group rose from 86 to 424, a 393 percent increase. Men also saw a significant increase, at 69 percent.

Maryland’s Opioid Epidemic

In 2016 the two substances most responsible for drug-related deaths in Maryland were both opioids: heroin and fentanyl. In this year, opioids were involved in 89 percent of all intoxication deaths in Maryland.

This staggering number makes Maryland one of the top five states for the greatest number of opioid-related overdose deaths. Since 1999, this rate has steadily remained above the national average, and it’s almost quadrupled since 2010.

Of the 1,856 lives lost to opioids in 2016:

  • 1,212 deaths were related to heroin, up from 399 in 2007, a 203.8 percent increase.
  • 1,119 deaths were related to fentanyl, up from 26 in 2007, a 4203.9 percent increase.
  • 418 deaths were related to prescription opioids, up from 302 in 2007, a 38.4 percent increase.

Preliminary 2017 reports show that the opioid-related death rate in Maryland remained high. From January to September, 1,501 people died from opioid-related intoxication. In only 10 years, this number climbed 228.4 percent from 457 deaths in 2007. This was also the first year carfentanil, a deadly opioid 10,000 times more potent than morphine, was detected. Carfentanil was linked to 57 deaths in 2017.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription painkillers aren’t the only medications abused in Maryland. Prescription ADHD medications (Ritalin, Adderall) and benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax) are widely misused. Misusing or deliberately abusing a prescription can quickly turn into addiction and overdose. Benzodiazepines were some of the drugs most frequently found in Maryland overdoses.

Deaths involving benzodiazepines increased 240.5 percent between 2007 and 2016. According to to the Maryland Department of Health, this increase in deaths is due to benzodiazepines being used in combination with opioids.

Of the 126 benzo-related deaths in 2016:

  • 53 percent involved prescription opioids
  • 45 percent involved fentanyl
  • 43 percent involved heroin

Combining benzodiazepines and opioids can cause severe respiratory depression, coma and death.

Illicit Drug Abuse

Past-month illicit drug abuse in Maryland was higher than the national average in 2015, at 10.8 percent and 9.8 percent respectively. Illicit drugs used in Maryland include marijuana, cocaine (including crack), synthetic marijuana, hallucinogens and inhalants.

A 2015 report found that all age groups saw increased rates of marijuana abuse. Cocaine-related deaths doubled between 2015 and 2016, making cocaine fourth for drug-related overdose at 464 deaths. This rise is mainly because of opioids being abused with cocaine.

Alcohol Abuse

Almost six out of ten Marylanders over age 12 drink alcohol every month. While not all of these people have a problem with alcohol, even casual drinking can develop into an alcohol use disorder if a person isn’t careful.

Alcohol abuse, including binge drinking and heavy drinking, destroys the well-being of individuals and families alike in Maryland. Drinking in these ways can lead to addiction, fatal car crashes, birth defects, alcohol poisoning and other dangers. Alcohol-related hospital admissions have consistently increased in Maryland.

Alcohol-related deaths have been climbing in every region of Maryland since 2010. From 2015 to 2016, alcohol-related deaths almost doubled. Men and women of all ages, races and ethnicities have been affected.

Other drugs are frequently involved in alcohol overdose deaths:

  • Heroin – 54.3 percent
  • Fentanyl – 49.7 percent
  • Cocaine – 19.1 percent
  • Prescription opioids – 16.2 percent
  • Benzodiazepines – 4 percent

Polydrug abuse, or the use of two or more substances at once, is very dangerous. These behaviors increase the odds of overdose, especially when the substance is another depressant, like benzodiazepines or opioids.

Maryland Drug Abuse Prevention Programs

Statewide drug prevention programs are targeted at both youth and adults. While prevention is aimed at all forms of drug abuse, the emphasis is largely on opioids.

The Maryland State Department of Education published a resource to help educators and other professionals working in school districts to fight opioid drug abuse. The goals of the Heroin And Opioid Awareness & Prevention Toolkit include early education on heroin and opioid prevention and organizing a student-based heroin and opioid prevention campaign.

Governor Larry Hogan has made great strides to fight the opioid epidemic. Hogan formed the Inter-Agency Heroin and Opioid Coordinating Council to streamline the state’s response to the opioid epidemic.

Following his efforts, the state deputy secretary for public health issued a standing order that lifted the training and certification requirements on naloxone (Narcan), a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. This legislative change makes it available in pharmacies to anyone who wants the drug. Administered soon enough, naloxone could save a person’s life.

Maryland Addiction Treatment Programs

The best treatment outcomes are achieved when a person receives personalized care. Treatment plans should be customized to accommodate the ways that addiction has changed each client’s life. High-quality programs meet each person’s unique needs, and treatment plans should be under continual review to account for progress and setbacks.

Some or all of the following addiction treatment services and programs may be used to help a person recover from a substance use disorder.

Professional Intervention Services

Sometimes, no matter how hard friends and family plead, their loved one refuses to accept that they need help. Professional interventions have a high success rate of securing a commitment to seek help.

During a professional intervention, a trained interventionist will help the addicted person to accept the need for treatment. As part of this service, the interventionist will typically research and present treatment options and make arrangements to get a person to treatment.

Finding The Right Treatment: The Clinical Assessment

Treatment success starts with finding the right treatment program. Sometimes it can be difficult to know what the best options are. At this time, professional guidance can be very beneficial.

A clinical assessment is an evaluation that looks at the ways drugs or alcohol have changed a person’s life and health. It also looks at any underlying factors which may have caused the addiction. As part of this process, a trained clinician will administer a set of questions. The following are examples of questions that may be asked during this screening:

  • What drugs is the person using?
  • How long has the person been using the drug for?
  • How often is the drug used and in what dose?
  • How does the person take the drug? Is it swallowed, injected, smoked or snorted?
  • Does the person have a severe chemical dependency that should be treated in a medical detox?
  • What influenced the drug abuse? For instance did the drug abuse start because of family problems, trauma or unresolved grief?
  • Is the person self-medicating a physical or mental health problem?
  • How has the drug abuse damaged a person’s relationships or other important areas of their life?
  • Does the person have anxiety, depression or any other co-occurring disorder?
  • Has the person ever had addiction treatment before?

The answers to these and other questions help addiction specialists to select treatment therapies for an individualized treatment plan.

Medical Detox Programs

People who are struggling with intense chemical dependencies may need treatment in two parts: a medical detox to break the physical dependency and therapy for the psychological effects of the addiction. A person experiencing an alcohol, benzodiazepine or opioid addiction should consider a medically supported detox.

The main goal of a medical detox is to reduce or eliminate cravings and symptoms of withdrawal. This process also gives the body a chance to flush the drug’s toxins out of its system so that it can heal. In most cases, medications form the foundation of this treatment. The two main medications used for opioid-dependent persons are buprenorphine (Suboxone) and methadone.

Inpatient Drug Rehab Centers

Addressing the emotional and behavioral aspects of addictive behavior takes time and intensive therapies. Because of this, inpatient drug rehab is often the most effective treatment choice for a person who is working to recover from a moderate to severe addiction. The residential setting of these programs forms a therapeutic community to protect a person from harmful influences in their life and removes them from triggering environments.

Maryland inpatient addiction treatment programs generally offer the most access to individual, group and family therapy sessions. This extra time is important when a person is working to heal and build coping skills. In addition to short-term care, many rehab centers offer long-term options that give a person more time to build a strong, sober life. These include programs that are 60, 90 or 120 days. Some may even be a year or more.

Outpatient Addiction Treatment Options

Many people are quick to choose outpatient treatment due to the flexibility of being able to live at home during treatment. This isn’t always the best option, however. Returning home after therapy each day can expose a person to people, places or events that trigger cravings, increasing the risk of relapse.

Though Maryland outpatient drug rehab programs do help many people recover, they’re often better when used as a step-down level of care after completing an inpatient program. It can be very difficult to move from the structure and support of a fully supported addiction treatment program to the responsibilities of day-to-day life. An outpatient program can help a person transition to sober living by keeping them active in their recovery.

Staying Strong: Aftercare And Sober Living Options

Treatment builds the foundation of recovery, but it’s up to the person to maintain it and stay focused on it. Aftercare or alumni support and sober living options can help a person stay on track with their sobriety.

Many facilities offer some form of aftercare as part of their treatment program. Aftercare services may include outreach or community support programs, alumni mentorships and peer support groups. Good aftercare should monitor a person’s health and well-being and may include medication management, mental health care and vocational support services.

Two components of addiction treatment that help people thrive in recovery are structure and accountability. Choosing to live in a sober living home after treatment allows a person to remain rooted in these positive forces. Sober living homes are drug-free environments that support a person as they work to reclaim their life, whether it be looking for a job or resolving family conflicts.

Specialized Addiction Treatment Programs

Specialized drug rehab programs available in Maryland may include:

  • Dual-diagnosis care for mental health issues
  • Executive or professional programs
  • Gender-specific treatment groups
  • LGBTQ-friendly programs
  • Luxury drug rehab
  • Programs for people with children
  • 12-step and 12-step alternatives
  • Religious

Therapies Used In Maryland Addiction Treatment

Addiction changes the way a person thinks, feels and relates to the world around them. An important part of treatment is addressing these changes and helping a person relate in a more healthy way.

To achieve this, a variety of therapies are used. These may include more traditional, evidence-based methods and alternative or holistic therapies.

Therapies used in Maryland addiction treatment to help a person reach their recovery goals may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Acupuncture
  • Art or music therapy
  • Adventure or wilderness therapies
  • Equine therapy
  • Mindfulness and stress-management practices
  • Pet therapy
  • Yoga

Many of these therapies are also used to treat co-occurring disorders or trauma. Treatment is more successful when these conditions are treated alongside the addiction.

How To Pay For Drug Rehab In Maryland: Insurance And Other Payment Options

Some people who need addiction treatment can’t afford to pay for the whole cost out of pocket. To make sure that their or a loved one’s treatment needs are met, it’s important to understand alternative payment options. One of the most widely available forms of assistance is health insurance.

In Maryland, several individuals and family plans provide addiction treatment services. These may include:

  • Aetna Better Health of Maryland
  • CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
  • Cigna HealthCare
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • UnitedHealthcare HealthChoice

If a person still can’t make ends meet after their personal contribution and insurance coverage, they may want to consider scholarships and grants or financing options.

Locating Addiction Treatment Services In Maryland

Choosing the right addiction treatment program in Maryland can help put a person on the path to sobriety, but there are so many options that this can be a difficult decision. Trained addiction specialists have a variety of resources that can make this process easier. With their help, the person in need of treatment or their family can find the most personalized treatment for their needs.

Traveling For Addiction Treatment

When a person seeks treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction, they often look for treatment centers that are close to where they live. However, the program with the right combination of high-quality therapies to meet their unique needs might not be in their home state.

The benefits of being willing to travel to seek addiction treatment include:

  • More high-quality treatment programs than are available locally
  • Improved focus on treatment and removal from environmental triggers
  • Increased confidentiality

Vertava Health offers effective, compassionate treatment in several states across the country, and we can help people find the care they need—wherever they are.