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Maine’s opioid crisis continues to worsen amid pandemic

October 21, 2020 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine’s drug overdose crisis has worsened during the pandemic, largely because of the opioid epidemic, the state’s attorney general said Wednesday.

A report compiled by Marcella Sorg of the University of Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center showed that drugs caused 132 deaths in the second quarter of 2020, Attorney General Aaron Frey said. That’s a 4% increase from the first quarter of the year.

“It is clear from the data that the increase in deaths from the opioid epidemic can be partially attributed to the increased isolation of living through the pandemic,” Frey said.

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Drug overdose deaths have also totaled 258 in the first two quarters of the year, and that’s a 27% increase from the last two quarters of 2019.

Frey said more than 80% of the deaths were caused by at least one opioid, and a similar number of the deaths were caused by two or more drugs.