Maine’s Attorney General Aaron Frey, along with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, announced they will be releasing drug overdose data monthly, starting with the numbers for January 2021.
The data shows that there were 58 deaths due to drugs in January 2021. Of those, 29 were confirmed drug deaths, and 29 are suspected drug deaths. The most frequent cause of death is fentanyl, said Dr. Marcella Sorg of the University of Maine’s Margaret Chae Smith Policy Center.
“January’s numbers are a stark and tragic reminder of how pervasive and deadly the opioid epidemic is,” Frey said. “We must urgently work to connect Mainers who are struggling with substance use disorder with the resources they need to protect them and help them advance in recovery, and we must come together as a community to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control so that barriers to treatment and support are removed.”
Frey said he hoped that reporting the data more frequently and eventually adding in data for non-fatal overdoses would help Maine residents better grasp the crisis in real-time and begin to highlight aspects of the state’s response to the crisis.
One of those measures, Frey said, was the Overdose Prevention Through Intensive Outreach Naloxone and Safety (OPTIONS) initiative; a coordinated effort of the Maine Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) and other state agencies to help state residents with substance use disorder recover through harm reduction strategies and overdose prevention efforts.