March 25, 2021

By Ramona du Houx

The Maine Attorney General (AG) and the Office of Chief Medical Examiner have released drug overdose data for February 2021, which draws attention to the continued devastation the opioid epidemic is causing in Maine.

“February’s numbers are an important reminder of the opioid crisis’s continued grip on our state and the country. I am hopeful that current efforts, including the work of the Opioid Data Sharing Committee highlighted in t his report, will continue to shine a light on the need for state and local governments to work proactively with community members and organizations to ensure that people are connected with the resources they need to treat substance use disorder,” said Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey.

Attorney General Frey noted that combatting drug deaths continues to be a priority of the Office of the Attorney General. He is a member of the Governors Prevention and Recovery Cabinet.

This report continues monthly reporting, designed to improve transparency and timeliness regarding Maine’s epidemic of substance use morbidity and mortality. Year-to-date numbers will be updated with each new monthly report, as cases are finalized, and their overdose status is confirmed or ruled out. The totals are expected to shift as this evolution occurs. In addition, as a result of using a smaller sample size in each month, totals are expected to fluctuate due to the effects of random variation. The reports will also feature aspects of the states response to the epidemic.

These monthly reports will be posted on https://mainedrugdata.org.

The report, compiled by Dr. Marcella Sorg of the University of Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, showed that 45 deaths were caused by drugs in February of 2021. Of those, 27 are confirmed drug deaths and 18 are suspected drug deaths. The most frequent cause of death in these cases is non-pharmaceutical fentanyl.

The Opioid Data Sharing Committee will be featuring one category of the data each month, and exploring its relevance and promise for understanding the drug-related issues Maine is facing, e.g. law enforcement; judicial systems; corrections; prescription monitoring; treatment; syringe exchange program data; naloxone distribution data; and overdose data. The goal is to improve transparency and public engagement, as well as to provide a readily accessible source for information needed both by the public and by policy makers, supporting Maines efforts to make its policy decisions data-driven and evidence-based.

More information can be found at https://mainedrugdata.org.

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