|February 11, 2019
Maine Attorney General Releases Overdose Death Report for First Three-Quarters of 2018
Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey on Friday released the latest report on drug overdose deaths in the state. While the report included data from the first three-quarters of 2018, it also made projections for the entire year. The state is likely to see its first decrease in overdose deaths in several years when the year end data becomes available.
While a decrease in overdose deaths is certainly positive news, the total number of deaths still remain historically high and the number of deaths now connected to cocaine and methamphetamine is rising.
From January to September 2018, there were 282 fatalities caused by drugs, a 5% decrease form the 297 deaths reported in the some period of 2017. The report, prepared by Marcella Sorg, PhD. of the University of Maine's Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, projects that there will be 376 drug overdoses for all of 2018. Compared to the 2017 total of 417 deaths, this would represent a ten percent decrease in overdose deaths. Deaths related to opioids, including both legal and illegal, are projected to drop 13% while deaths from cocaine and meth are likely to increase.
"Though we obviously welcome the sight reduction, the fact remains that the opioid epidemic is a public health crisis which is tearing apart Maine families and communities," Attorney General Frey said in a prepared statement. "Our office recognizes the urgency of this crisis and I am committed to working in a collaborative manner with Governor Mills, the Legislature, and all relevant agencies and community leaders to turn this crisis around by finding and implementing real solutions."
Another positive note involves the number of drug-affected babies born in the state in 2018. The 908 babies born drug-affected in 2018 represented the third year that the number has declined from a high of 1024 babies in 2016. Nonetheless, the fact that 7% of babies born in 2018 in Maine were born drug-affected demonstrates that the state has a long way to go in attacking the opioid problem effectively.
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