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Portland Sees A Spike In Number Of Overdose Deaths In January

Following a recent spike in the number of overdose deaths in Maine's largest city, Portland Police are reaching out to remind the public that there are resources available to help those at risk.

Portland Police Lieutenant Robert Martin says that since the beginning of the month, officers have responded to 11 overdoses and five overdose deaths in just the past two weeks. He says Portland averages 30 overdose deaths a year and that having five in such a short period of time is concerning.

“One of the things that really was pronounced to me was the fact that we have three people that are under the age of 30,” he says. “22, 24 and a 24-year old that were affected by this.Males and females are victims.”

Martin says 20 years ago these types of overdoses usually involved older males.

“You know we're seeing young kids 18, teenagers that are engaging in the use of opiods and other substances to the level that we haven't seen before.”

Martin also says it's hard to identify one substance as the problem.

“In a lot of these cases there's more than one drug that are being used, so a combination of the effects could be what's causing this, too.”

Martin credits the prevalence of the overdose reversal drug Narcan with keeping death rates down. He says among the resources available to substance users or their loved ones are programs offered by Portland Public Health, and he says his department has a liaison who works to get people into treatment programs and who advocates on their behalf.

Updated 5:22 p.m. Jan. 24, 2020

Ed is a Maine native who spent his early childhood in Livermore Falls before moving to Farmington. He graduated from Mount Blue High School in 1970 before going to the University of Maine at Orono where he received his BA in speech in 1974 with a broadcast concentration. It was during that time that he first became involved with public broadcasting. He served as an intern for what was then called MPBN TV and also did volunteer work for MPBN Radio.