Assessing Maryland’s Response to the Opioid Crisis

Criminal Justice, Health Care, Welfare


APRIL 6, 2017 pdf PDF VERSION Bookmark and Share

ROCKVILLE, MD (April 6, 2017) — A public health-minded approach to Maryland’s opioid crisis is more likely to produce positive results than a “War on Drugs” approach, according to a new study from the Maryland Public Policy Institute. Given the tragic toll heroin and prescription opioids are taking in Maryland and across the country, the Institute analyzed Maryland’s evolving strategy to combat this epidemic and found both strengths and weaknesses. The full report can be viewed at mdpolicy.org.

Maryland saw a 62 percent increase in the number opioid overdose deaths through the third quarter of 2016. In Harford County, deaths have spiked 185 percent. The study credits Maryland policymakers for taking key policy steps since 2015, including:


The study questions the effectiveness of two recent proposals:

“When there is widespread agreement among the political and chattering classes that drastic action is needed, it is usually necessary to take a step back and carefully consider the evidence,” said Andrew F. Quinlan, co-author of the study. “That is where we believe our paper can come in handy. Otherwise, they are as likely to make the problem worse as better.”

"If opioid abuse is treated as just the latest iteration of the War on Drugs, then history shows that there is going to be a lot of collateral damage and little in the way of improvements for the foreseeable future,” said Brian Garst, study co-author. “Policymakers need to get creative and look at what actually works, instead of just what plays well on the evening news."

About the Maryland Public Policy Institute: Founded in 2001, the Maryland Public Policy Institute is a nonpartisan public policy research and education organization that focuses on state policy issues. The Institute’s mission is to formulate and promote public policies at all levels of government based on principles of free enterprise, limited government, and civil society.  Learn more at mdpolicy.org.


To read the full report, click here pdf

Related Links

Evaluating Public Policy Responses to Opioid Abuse and Maryland's Proposed and Existing Initiatives