Eighty-six people in Maine died from drug overdose deaths in the first quarter of the year, according to a new report released by the state attorney general’s office.
The number of drug overdose deaths is a slight drop from the 89 deaths during the same timeframe last year. But increasingly, it’s illicit drugs that are the cause, compared to pharmaceutical opioids.
Fentanyl is the most common, accounting for 65 percent of the drug overdose deaths in the first quarter of this year. Heroin is often cut with fentanyl because it’s cheaper, but it’s also more lethal and can cause death from simply touching the powder or inhaling its dust.
In a written statement accompanying the report, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills called the shift from heroin to cheap fentanyl “deeply troubling.” She said that the 2018 numbers show that the state hasn’t turned the tide against opioids, and there’s a continuing need for more treatment, prevention and education.