Maine likely set record for drug deaths in 2020
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine is on pace to set a new state record for the number of drug overdose deaths in a year.
The Office of the Attorney General reported on Monday that 122 deaths were caused by drugs in the third quarter of 2020. That brought the total number of drug-related deaths to 380, which is 24% more than the previous three-quarter period.
The state’s high mark for overdose deaths of 417 was set in 2017. The attorney general’s office said 83% of deaths were caused by at least one opioid, with non-pharmaceutical fentanyl remaining a major contributor.
The attorney general’s office and Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said in a statement the year-to-date deaths from overdoses is on pace to “significantly exceed” those of last year. There were 380 drug-related deaths in all of 2019.
A report compiled by Dr. Marcella Sorg and Dr. Kiley Daley of the University of Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center states that the increase in deaths is “likely due at least in part to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and related mitigation measures: isolation, avoidance of or difficulty accessing medical services, and alterations in the illicit drug supply.”