A new report shows that the number of overdose deaths in 2020 rose 33%, over the previous year, due mostly to fentanyl.

According to the annual report from the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, 504 Mainers died from drug overdoses in 2020, compared to 380 in 2019. The statistics were compiled by Dr. Marcella Song of the University of Maine's Margaret Chase Smith policy center.

The deadliest illegal drug currently circulating in Maine is non-pharmaceutical fentanyl. 336 of the 504 deaths in 2020 were caused by the drug, which is a 30% increase over the previous year. As of April of 2021, an estimated 48 people have died from drug overdoses. 76% of those were due to non-pharmaceutical fentanyl. Monthly overdose information can be found on the Maine Drug Data website.

In response to these numbers, Attorney General Aaron M. Frey said it's important to study how the pandemic impacted these numbers, particularly in relation to fentanyl.

No single intervention will solve this crisis. It is incumbent on leaders from all across Maine to come to the table to pursue solutions which will save lives.

Governor Mills has established an Accidental Drug Overdose Death Review Panel to study the circumstances of these deaths and adjust policy to try and reduce these numbers.

As we reflect upon those we lost, let us honor their lives by redirecting ourselves to ending the scourge of substance disorder and overdose deaths in our state, preventing addiction in the first place, and expanding access to treatment and recovery options.

The 2020 drug death report can be found on the Maine Attorney General's website.

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