CECIL COUNTY — In the most recent update by Ray Lynn, who is Cecil County’s heroin coordinator, he reported several trends along with the biggest – that 14 people in this county died from drug overdoses in May, making it the deadliest month here since he started keeping records in January 2017.
The 14 people who lost their lives to drug overdoses in May are included in the total of 31 people killed by ODs in Cecil County since March 5, when Gov. Larry Hogan issued the first of his many emergency health orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Overall, since the start of 2020 some five months ago, drug overdoses have killed 41 people in Cecil County. (There have been 180 non-fatal drug overdoses in Cecil County during that same time period, at least 45 of which that occurred since March 5.)
Lynn, as well as others in the drug monitoring, support and treatment community, believe that some addicts in recovery were negatively affected during the past two-plus months by a gubernatorial directive prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people, because it resulted in the halting of some support group meetings and the modification others to sessions held remotely.
Precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also resulted in the closing of one state-funded residential rehab in which about 70 percent of its patients were Cecil County residents, he reported.
In addition, a gubernatorial stay-at-home order for all citizens — except for workers deemed to be essential employees — led to a feeling of isolation for some addicts in recovery, including those already dealing with the loss of employment or the reduction of work hours due to COVID-19-related economic repercussions, according to Lynn.
Relating to the overdose statistics for Cecil County thus far in 2020, here are some other observations made by Lynn:
* Most affected by fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses in Cecil County are people from 27 to 30 years of age.
* Approximately 60 percent of the fatal and non-fatal overdoses have involved people believed to be “relatively new users of heroin, possibly even first-time people” because they have no records of past overdoses.
* Even so, there appears to be an uptick in people suffering repeat overdoses, including some that occurred this year after relatively long stretches of dormancy. One man who had survived 17 drug overdoses since January of 2017, for example, had gone approximately one year without a reported drug overdose, before having another drug overdose in May.
* Approximately 15 percent of the fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses in Cecil County have involved homeless people.
* The balance of 85 percent has involved people representing a wide range of employment, incomes and so forth.
“It’s not just homeless people and the stereotypical junkies anymore. We’ve had people who are engineers for local companies, healthcare workers, public service workers – people with careers and families – who have overdosed,” Lynn emphasized.
* While reported overdoses have been scattered throughout Cecil County, the majority of them have taken place along the Route 40 corridor that stretches from Elkton to Perryville.
“Overdoses are occurring inside residences, motor vehicles, public parks and businesses, including convenience stores,” Lynn outlined, noting that one man overdosed in an Elkton-area Wawa bathroom twice in a matter of days.
* Fatal and non-fatal overdoses in this county have been linked to at least 17 different street brands of heroin or heroin mixed with fentanyl, although, according to Lynn, some dealers have been known to stamp the same batch of heroin with a different street brand name in attempts to “avoid detection.”