MARYLAND

Maryland sees increase in heroin-related drug overdoses

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland had a 33 percent increase in drug overdose deaths in the first quarter of this year.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released a new report on Thursday that shows the increase over the same period last year is being driven by fentanyl-laced heroin.

The report says there were 252 total drug overdose deaths from January to March, and 148 are related to heroin.

The state also has seen a big increase in heroin-related emergency department visits in recent years. There were 1,200 in Maryland last year, compared to 871 in 2012.

Gov. Martin O'Malley created a state Overdose Prevention Council last month to address the rising problem.

The O'Malley administration has set a goal of reducing overdose deaths by 20 percent by 2015.

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