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Post-Industrial Nightmare Shows Baltimore Leading Nation in Drug Overdose Deaths

On May 23, the New York Times, in collaboration with the Baltimore Banner, published the the first article in a series reporting on a study covering the out-of-control explosion of drug overdose deaths in the City of Baltimore—or “Charm City” as it is known by its residents. Once a vibrant, middle-class metropolis with a large manufacturing base—including the largest steel mill in the world—and a population of almost a million, 75 years of post-industrial policies have reduced the population by almost half, with a poverty rate of 30%, one of the highest homicide rates of any major city, and the leader by far in drug overdose deaths.

According to the Times article: “In the past six years, nearly 6,000 lives have been lost. The death rate from 2018 to 2022 was nearly double that of any other large city, and higher than nearly all of Appalachia during the prescription pill crisis, the Midwest during the height of rural meth labs or New York during the crack epidemic.” During the period of 2018 to 2022, the death rate from drug overdose in Baltimore was 170 per 100,000. Its closest competitor was Knox County, Tennessee, which includes the City of Knoxville, with a rate of 86 per 100,000. New York City had an overdose death rate of 43.3 in 2022. With recreational marijuana—a notorious gateway drug—now legal in the state of Maryland, it is very likely this rate will increase.

Many interviews were done for the study with various city leaders who, seemingly clueless, expressed shock when confronted with the study’s findings: “Councilman Mark Conway, who leads the city’s public safety committee, described the deaths as ‘completely unacceptable’ and said he would have called for hearings if he had known how much Baltimore was an outlier.

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