- Associated Press - Thursday, April 18, 2019

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Drug overdose deaths in Maine dropped 15% last year, but still account for about one death each day in the state, according to a report released Thursday.

The total number of fatal overdoses was 354 in 2018, compared to 417 deaths the year before, the report said. Overall, 80% of the deaths involved opioids, often in combination with other drugs and alcohol. The report found fentanyl and its analogs caused 77% of opioid-involved deaths.

Gov. Janet Mills said in an emailed statement “we will not rest in our determination to end this epidemic.”

“It is welcome news that the number of people losing their lives to drug overdoses has decreased, but the opioid epidemic still presents a serious public health threat to our state,” she said.

The lower number of deaths doesn’t mean fewer people are suffering from opioid-use disorder or that drugs are any less widespread, according to the report compiled by Dr. Marcella Sorg of the University of Maine Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center.



Attorney General Aaron Frey said Thursday the state’s opioid crisis continues to be a public health epidemic requiring a comprehensive response.

“Individuals, families, and communities continue to be harmed by this public health epidemic, and work must continue to address this crisis,” he said.

Maine isn’t the only state with a drop in overdose deaths, but it’s difficult to pinpoint any specific cause, the report said. It could be a combination of law enforcement, policy changes, economic shifts and types of drugs available on the street, it said.

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