In the first half of 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic swept through the world, Maryland saw a 9% increase in drug– and alcohol-related deaths compared to the same period the previous year. Officials said this was an expected fallout of Covid-19 as people quarantined inside their homes, leading to social isolation, lack of support, and disruption in access to care. An overwhelming 90% of the 1,326 deaths reported by the Maryland Department of Health were caused by opioids, with 1,100 deaths due to fentanyl, an increase of nearly 12% over the previous year. Also, alcohol-related deaths increased by 35% and cocaine-related deaths jumped by 13% in the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019. [1]

While this uptick in drug and alcohol deaths in Maryland is concerning, the problem is not new. In 2009–2010, Maryland was in the top 10 states for illicit drug dependence, with a little over 8% of Maryland residents reporting illicit drug use within the past 30 days. The rate of drug-induced deaths in the state exceeded the national average. At the time, heroin was the most commonly cited primary drug of abuse during treatment admissions in Maryland, followed by marijuana, other opiates, and cocaine/crack.

More recently, in 2019, approximately 13% of all adults (18+) reported past-month illicit drug use in Maryland, higher than the national average of around 12.7%. Among young adults (18–25 years) in Maryland, past-month illicit drug use was reported by roughly 28% of people, which is significantly higher than the national average of approximately 24%.

Calling an alcohol or drug hotline in Maryland can help people struggling with addiction to get the help they need without delay. Hotlines typically operate 24/7, including holidays. Calls to toll-free hotlines are completely free and confidential. Callers can obtain useful information about drug addiction and alcoholism and identify effective and affordable rehab programs in their community.

In this article, we will review some of the key statistics on alcohol and drug use in Maryland. The goal is to help you understand the scale of the problem so that you can get timely addiction treatment for yourself or someone you love.

Alcohol Use in Maryland

Based on the CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System results of 2019, excessive drinking in Maryland (defined as the percentage of adults who reported binge drinking or heavy drinking) has been consistently lower than the national average for the last decade. In 2019, 12.6% of females reported excessive drinking, compared to the US value of 14.1%. Similarly, among males, 17.7% of Maryland males reported excessive drinking, compared to 22.7% nationally. The same was true across all age groups, education levels, income levels, and races/ethnicities, with Maryland scoring better than the US national values.

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 55% of Maryland residents (ages 12+) reported past-month use of alcohol—this is higher than the total U.S. figure of around 51%. Past-month alcohol use among young adults (ages 18–25) was 57% in Maryland, also higher than the national average of 54%.

Binge alcohol use in Maryland in the past month was higher than the national average for all age groups except teenagers (12–17 years), which at 4.2% was marginally lower than the national average of 4.7%. [2]

An alcohol hotline is a great resource for anyone battling alcoholism. Calling an alcohol hotline in Maryland can help to identify alcohol addiction treatment programs in the state. The friendly and helpful representatives at the hotline can also provide useful information about various resources available for people wanting to overcome alcohol abuse.

Opioid Abuse and Addiction in Maryland

In 2018, of the approximately 67,000 drug overdose deaths nationwide, 2,087 occurred in Maryland. The overwhelming majority of drug overdose deaths in Maryland (90%) involved opioids. There were 576 deaths due to prescription opioids and 356 deaths due to heroin in Maryland in 2018, with both figures representing a decline compared to the previous year. However, fatalities involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids increased to 1,825, representing nearly 90% of all opioid related deaths.

Maryland fared well in terms of the number of opioid prescriptions written by providers in 2018, which at 45.1 per 100 persons was lower than the U.S. national average of 51.4 prescriptions per 100 people.

Unfortunately, the news was not so good on another front. NAS or neonatal abstinence syndrome is a condition that develops in newborn babies who are exposed to opioid drugs during gestation due to maternal drug abuse. The rate of NAS in Maryland was over 14 cases per 1,000 hospital births, which is significantly higher than the national average of 7 cases per 1,000 hospital births. This underlines the importance of making greater efforts to control opioid abuse during pregnancy in Maryland. Pregnant women who are using opioids can call an opioid abuse hotline in Maryland to get help and reduce the risk of serious health complications for themselves and their baby.

There were more than 38,000 new HIV diagnoses nationwide in the U.S. in 2018, and of these, 1,021 occurred in Maryland. Among males, intravenous drug use accounted for 6.4% of the new HIV diagnoses. Among females in Maryland with new HIV diagnoses, 10.8% were due to IV drug abuse. [3]

Heroin Addiction in Maryland

In the early 2000s, heroin posed the most serious drug threat in the state of Maryland based on the number of treatment admissions and drug-related deaths. Highly pure heroin makes its way to Maryland mainly from South America. Violence related to heroin distribution is a concern in large metropolitan areas like Baltimore. Colombian drug cartels with headquarters in New York City are the main transporters of heroin in Maryland. [4]

The 2019 NSDUH survey found that 0.30% of young adults in Maryland (18–25 years) reported past-year use of heroin, which is lower than the national U.S. average of 0.36%.

Cocaine Abuse in Maryland

Past-year cocaine use in Maryland in 2019 was lower than the national average across all age groups. Cocaine use was highest among young adults (18–25 years old) in Maryland, with 4.41% reporting they had used crack/cocaine within the past year (national average for the 18–25 age group in 2019 was 5.54%).

A cocaine addiction helpline in Maryland can provide support, guidance, and information about overcoming dependence on crack/cocaine. Calls are confidential and toll-free, and drug helplines in Maryland usually operate 24/7/365, so you can call any time of day or night, including weekends and holidays. Getting timely treatment for cocaine addiction can help to limit the damage the drug causes.

Methamphetamine Addiction in Maryland

Past-year methamphetamine use in Maryland was lower than the national average for all age groups and was reported as follows by the 2019 NSDUH: [5]

  • Age 12+: 0.38% in Maryland vs. U.S. national average 0.70%
  • Age 12–17: 0.11% in Maryland vs. U.S. national average 0.17%
  • Age 18–25: 0.35% in Maryland vs. U.S. national average 0.81%
  • Age 26+: 0.33% in Maryland vs. U.S. national average 0.75%
  • Age 18+: 0.33% in Maryland vs. U.S. national average 0.76%

Marijuana Use in Maryland

In 2019, just over 40% of young adults in Maryland reported past-year marijuana use. This is higher than the U.S. national average of 35%. Similarly, past-month use of Marijuana in Maryland among young adults (ages 18–25) was roughly 26%, again higher than the overall national average of roughly 22%.

Woman with cannabis

Substance Abuse by Youth in Maryland

The High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2019 revealed the following in Maryland: [6]

  • 15.1% of teens in Maryland reported their first alcoholic drink before age 13.
  • 24.1% of students reported current alcohol use (1 or more drinks in the past 30 days).
  • 12% of adolescents in Maryland reported binge drinking within the past 30 days.
  • 31% of Maryland youth indicated marijuana use at least once.
  • 6.4% of the students surveyed reported using marijuana at least once before age 13.
  • 17.6% of teens reported current marijuana use (within the past 30 days).
  • 6.3% of the teenagers reported synthetic marijuana use (called skunk, K2, King Kong, fake weed, or spice on the street).
  • 14.6% of adolescents reported use of prescription pain pills without a doctor’s prescription or different from how they were told to use them.
  • 4.8% of Maryland teenagers reported lifetime cocaine use.
  • 3.7% of Maryland high school students reported lifetime heroin use.
  • 3.7% of youth in Maryland reported ever using methamphetamine.
  • 4.9% of the surveyed students reported ecstasy use at least once in their lifetime.
  • 4.1% of Maryland teenagers reported injecting illegal drugs one or more times.
  • 23.2% of teenagers in Maryland were sold or given an illegal drug on school property in the past 12 months.

A youth drug hotline in Maryland can help teenagers find addiction treatment programs that are tailored to the unique needs of adolescents and young adults. Toll-free hotlines in Maryland operate 24/7 and offer free, confidential information and guidance to parents and youth.

Last updated: March 9, 2023


1 Baltimore Sun. Drug- and alcohol-related deaths across Maryland jump more than 9% due to coronavirus, officials say. Available online. Accessed on July 5, 2021.
2, 5 SAMHSA. 2018-2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Available online. Accessed on July 5, 2021.
3 National Institute on Drug Use. Maryland: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms. Available online. Accessed on July 5, 2021.
4 National Drug Intelligence Center. Maryland Drug Threat Assessment – Heroin. Available online. Accessed on July 5, 2021.
6 CDC. High School YRBS. Maryland 2019 Results. Available online. Accessed on July 5, 2021.