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Report: Pandemic Isolation Contributed To Ongoing Opioid Crisis

Nearly a quarter more people died in Maine from drug use in the first nine months of 2020, than the year before.

That’s according to a new report by the University of Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, which showed that between January and September of last year, 380 people died from using drugs. That’s compared to 306 in those months in 2019.

The report finds that the increase — which is also being seen in other states — is likely due at least in part to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including isolation, people having a hard time accessing medical services and changes to the illicit drug supply.

But Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey says it’s important to remember it’s also part of something much larger.

“We are not just dealing with a COVID-19 crisis, we are dealing with a long-lasting and significant opioid crisis,” he says.

The report finds 65% of fatal overdoses from January through September were of nonpharmaceutical fentanyl and fentanyl analogs; 26 percent were of pharmaceutical opioids.