Drug Overdose Deaths in Maine Sharply Higher This Year
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has released statistics on drug overdose deaths through the first nine months of 2016. With 286 deaths through the end of September, she says overdose deaths have already exceeded the total number for all of 2015 when there were 272 drug overdose deaths in Maine. The dramatic increase is mainly being attributed to illegally manufactured non-pharmaceutical fentanyl and fentanyl-related drugs, although Mills says the number of deaths due to other drugs is also increasing.
Of the 286 third-quarter, year-to-date total, 195 of the deaths (68%) are due to at least one illicitly manufactured drug. This includes heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or non-pharmaceutical fentanyl, alone or in combination with other drugs or alcohol.
182 of the deaths (64%) are due to illicitly manufactured opioid drugs, including heroin/morphine, non-pharmaceutical fentanyl and its analogues, U-47700, and kratom, alone or in combination with other drugs or alcohol.
176 of the deaths (62%) are due to at least one pharmaceutical drug, including a wide variety of drugs available by prescription or over the counter, alone or in combination with other drugs or alcohol.
95 of the deaths (33%) are due to at least one pharmaceutical opioid drug, such as, methadone and oxycodone, alone or in combination with other drugs or alcohol.
92 of the deaths (49%) are due to a combination of illicitly manufactured and pharmaceutical drugs.
Mills says the figures through the first three-quarters of 2016 far exceed the numbers through the first nine months of 2015. In 2015 there were 174 drug overdose deaths recorded in the first three quarters of the year.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and Dr. Marcella Sorg of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine compiled the data.
“One person a day is dying from a drug overdose in Maine,” said Attorney General Mills. “I cannot stress how dangerous these drugs are. My office is working with law enforcement around the state to stop the trafficking of these drugs in Maine. As we work to stem the supply we must also decrease the demand for these drugs. Maine must expand access to detox beds and long-term treatment so that people in the grips of addiction can find hope and live productive lives. With a new legislature convening soon, we need an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to combat this epidemic in a smart, nonpartisan and comprehensive way.”