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Drug overdose data shows three Waldo County deaths since Jan. 1

Mar 30, 2021

Augusta — The Office of the Attorney General 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.

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 those, 27 are confirmed and 18 are suspected drug deaths. The most frequent cause of death in these cases is non-pharmaceutical fentanyl.

In Waldo County, two drug overdose deaths were reported in January and one in February. In 2020, nine people died of drug overdoses in the county.

The January number of fatal drug overdoses statewide is currently 54 confirmed and one suspected. Three additional overdoses were suspected in January, but were confirmed as due to other causes of death.

The February report continues monthly reporting, designed to improve transparency and timeliness regarding Maine’s epidemic of substance use morbidity and mortality, according to the announcement. 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 state’s response to the epidemic. These monthly reports will be posted on mainedrugdata.com.

In response to the report, Attorney General Aaron M. Frey said, “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 this 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.”

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 Maine’s efforts to make its policy decisions data-driven and evidence-based. More information can be found at mainedrugdata.org.

 

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