AUGUSTA - Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner have released drug overdose statistics for the first nine months of 2015.
The numbers paint a dire picture of Maine's opioid crisis. From January through September of 2015, deaths attributable to drug overdoses stood at 174. The state is on pace to reach between 230 and 250 overdose deaths this year. In 2014, there were a record 208 overdose deaths.
"Maine's opioid epidemic continues to rage," said Attorney General Mills. "This problem seems to have the attention of everyone but the users. I am heartened by the response I have seen from leaders in our state who all want to solve this problem. In recent days the police have taken major actions to disrupt the supply of heroin and other opiates into our state and to protect our citizenry from those who would sell it. We can and must do more. We must also begin the long effort of curbing the demand for these deadly substances by educating people of the dangers and supporting people in recovery from addiction."
Of the deaths in the first nine months of 2015, 113 (65%) involved at least one pharmaceutical drug and 111 (64%) involved at least one illicit drug. Many of these deaths (29%) were caused by a combination of pharmaceutical and illicit drugs. Pharmaceutical opioids remain a key substance category, with 70 deaths (40%) caused by at least one pharmaceutical opioid. Heroin and Fentanyl are increasingly named as a cause of death, with 71 (41%) deaths caused by heroin and 54 (31%) caused by fentanyl or acetyl fentanyl. In 74% of all the cases, multiple drugs are listed as a cause of death.