Fatal drug deaths from overdoses in Maine rose by 7 percent in 2019

Fatal drug deaths from overdoses in Maine rose by 7 percent in 2019

A new report from the University of Maine shows that overdose deaths in the state increased by 7 percent in 2019 over 2018 levels.

The report, compiled by Dr. Marcella Sorg of the University of Main’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, found that there were 380 overdose deaths in Maine in 2019, up from the state’s number in 2018, but lower than the peak of 417 in 2017.

The majority of the deaths due to overdose, 87 percent, were caused by at least one opioid, the report found. However, those deaths were almost always in combination with other drugs or alcohol, researchers found.

“It is important as Maine, appropriately, focuses its energy on combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, that we also maintain and increase our efforts to fight the opioid epidemic,” said the state’s Attorney General Aaron M. Frey. “The data in this report confirms how significant this crisis remains. It also highlights the importance of elected officials, individuals, organizations, and communities across the state to dedicate time and resources towards strengthening our public health infrastructure, which is crucial to combatting both COVID-19 and the opioid epidemic. I strongly support the ongoing efforts of my office, Governor Mills’s administration, legislators, and communities across Maine to help get us to the other side of this.

Additionally, the report found that there was an increase in the state of overdose deaths caused by non-pharmaceutical opioids, like fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine.