Friday, 12 July 2019 17:28

Opioids linked to most Maine drug overdose deaths

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STATEWIDE - The number of Mainers who died in drug overdose deaths has decreased for the first quarter of the year but officials say the epidemic is far from over.

Fentanyl and other opiates continue to be the top drugs that kill most often but there are increases in overdose deaths this year involving cocaine and methamphetamines.


Experts say drug dealers are mixing Fentanyl with everything including cocaine, and it's killing people.


“Thirty-one percent of the Fentanyl deaths are combined with cocaine,” said Dr. Marcella Sorg, a research professor for the University of Maine's Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. “If you look at the heroin deaths, Fentanyl is there is 79 percent of the heroin deaths.”


Maine saw 74 drug-related overdose deaths in the first quarter of 2019, a decrease from the 86 who died in the first quarter of 2018.


Sorg's report shows that Fentanyl caused 66 percent of all of the overdose deaths, and 85 percent included at least one opioid.


Sorg has compiled the state's drug death data for the Maine Attorney General's Office since 2000.


“We should expect that as this crisis evolves, patterns will shift and as a society, we will have to respond accordingly,” Attorney General Aaron Frey said in an email. “I will continue to work in a collaborative manner with Governor Mills, the legislature, and all relevant agencies and community leaders to address this crisis and seek ways to reduce harm, treat substance use disorders, and save lives.”

Nit-Noi Ricker

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Nit-Noi Ricker is an Army brat who grew up on a farm in Winterport. She went to the University of Maine and the University of Northern Texas to learn how to be a journalist and started her career in Arizona at the Williams-Grand Canyon News, ...