Baltimore nursing homes see rash of fentanyl overdoses

Of the 50 addresses listed as overdose hotspots since 2018, 31 are senior living complexes.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC

Fentanyl overdoses are becoming more common in Baltimore area, with some in the older generation getting hit the hardest in senior living facilities. The drug crisis in Baltimore, Maryland has gotten progressively worse over the years, to the point where it has now been crowned the overdose capital of the United States.   

A growing number of those overdose deaths have occurred in nursing homes, where many lifelong addicts have found it easy to obtain drugs, including fentanyl.   

According to the New York Times, of the 50 addresses listed as overdose hotspots since 2018, 31 are senior living complexes. Over the past five years, more than 340 people over the age of 50 have died in such facilities.  

In 2023 alone, a total of 77 people died of overdoses in nursing homes, which was twice the rate seen in 2019. Many others were revived by first responders after ingesting near-lethal doses of drugs. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that black men born between 1951 and 1970 were the highest and white men from the same generation were the second most likely to overdose in Baltimore. The older black male demographic in the city had among the highest overdose rates in the entire country since 1993, with over 4,000 succumbing to a toxic amount of drugs.  

As the Times reports, it may be due to several factors. Over the years, the drugs have gotten progressively more potent, and today, in the age of fentanyl, it is far easier to overdose. There has also not been as many resources dedicated to the older demographic to prevent overdoses, despite promises from elected officials.  

The fentanyl trade has also increased with the softening of border policies under President Joe Biden. Maryland has designated itself as a sanctuary state and continues to do so amid the ongoing border crisis. In 2022, record amounts of fentanyl were smuggled into the US under his presidency.  

Joseph Saunders, 62, quit taking drugs two years ago after his wife passed away from a heart attack that was sparked from long-term opioid abuse. He lives in a senior building called the MonteVerde Apartments. “It’s supposed to be a safe haven,” Mr. Saunders told the outlet. Instead, it is “just like being out in the streets."

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