Overdose deaths claim more than one person per day in Maine during 2016

February 2, 2017

Please Note: There have been minor changes to the preliminary death totals released on February 2, 2017, due to updated death certificate information. The revised total is 376. For an updated and expanded data release, please see: http://www.maine.gov/ag/news/article.shtml?id=741243

AUGUSTA ? More than one person a day died of a drug overdose in Maine in 2016. The influx of fentanyl has contributed to a 39% increase in the total number of drug overdose deaths in Maine in 2016 as compared to 2015. In 2015 there were 272 deaths due to a drug overdose. That figure jumped to 378 deaths in 2016.

Opioid drugs remain the leading factor in deaths, with 313 deaths due to an opioid (pharmaceutical or non-pharmaceutical). Fentanyl caused 195 deaths, a 127% increase over last year, and heroin caused 123 deaths in 2016, which was a 15% increase over 2015.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80 times more potent than heroin. Just a few salt-sized grains of fentanyl could prove deadly. Fentanyl has been used as a pharmaceutical painkiller, usually in the form of a transdermal patch, but the powdered version of the drug that is now prevalent is illicitly produced in clandestine labs and sold to users as heroin. The person using the drug who may have a tolerance for an amount of other opioids can easily be overcome by fentanyl.

?We are losing more than one person each day to a drug overdose,? said Attorney General Mills. ?We need to reach out to friends and neighbors and let them know that whatever is wrong in their lives, no drug is going to solve their problems, not for one second. They are only hurting themselves, their friends, family and community. We have to remove the stigma from addiction so that people will get help before it is too late and we have to provide more pathways to recovery.?

Attorney General Mills expressed her thanks to the men and women of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and to Marcella Sorg, PhD, of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine for their work in compiling this data.

Link to past annual Data: http://www.maine.gov/ag/news/article.shtml?id=671344

378 lives lost to drug overdose in Maine last year

Supporting documents

Sorg Memo 2016