STATEWIDE — Fentanyl and other opioid painkillers continue to kill Mainers in drug overdoses, and state officials say COVID-19 has only increased the problem.
The Maine Attorney General’s Office and medical examiner released data Wednesday saying Maine overdose deaths in the first half of 2020 totaled 258.
That’s a 27 percent increase over the last half of 2019 and more than 80 percent of the deaths involved at least one opioid.
Maine’s attorney general says COVID-19 has contributed to the increase.
“Layer on top of that isolation, a lack of access to or avoidance of access to medical services, the increase in the illicit supply of drugs,” Attorney General Aaron Frey said Wednesday. “COVID-19 has not made it any easier to fight to the opioid crisis.”
Frey said similar drug overdose increases are being seen nationwide.
All total, there were 380 Maine deaths caused by drugs in 2019 and projections are the year-end total for 2020 will exceed last year’s figure.