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Attorney General Releases Drug Death Report for Second Quarter of 2020
October 21, 2020
AUGUSTA - The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the Office of Chief Medical Examiner have released figures demonstrating that drug overdose deaths continued to increase in the second quarter of 2020. The report confirms preliminary analysis released by the OAG in July, and mirrors similar increases in other states. Attorney General Aaron M. Frey says that the report makes clear that the opioid epidemic is a serious public health emergency, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"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," said Frey. "The data in this report confirms that the crisis has continued to intensify nationally. It is another reminder that our communities are stronger when we are connected with one another and pro-actively make efforts to help our neighbors. We have to ensure that Mainers who are struggling with substance use disorder are connected with the resources they need to protect them and help them advance in recovery. This increase in drug overdose deaths also reminds us that working with public health experts and community leaders to combat the pandemic is crucial in order to successfully protect the public from other major challenges. All Mainers are in this struggle together, and I will continue to work with legislators, Governor Mills, the executive branch, and leaders throughout the state to address this crisis."
The report compiled by Dr. Marcella Sorg of the University of Maine's Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, showed that 132 deaths were caused by drugs in the second quarter of 2020. This is a 4% increase over the first quarter of 2020. The 258 deaths caused by drugs in the first two quarters of 2020 represent a 27% increase over the last two quarters of 2019. 82% of deaths were caused by at least one opioid. 81% of deaths were caused by two or more drugs.
The report notes that these increases are comparable to increases being seen nationally, which are partly attributed to factors connected to the pandemic, including "isolation, avoidance of medical services, and alterations in the illicit drug supply."
Attorney General Frey noted that combatting drug deaths continues to be a priority of the Office of the Attorney General. He is a member of the Governor's Prevention and Recovery Cabinet.
The full report from Dr. Sorg is attached.