AUGUSTA – The state released Maine drug overdose numbers for the first three quarters of 2019, and they project a slight increase.
Maine saw 277 drug overdose deaths between January and September and Dr. Marcella Sorg, a research professor for the University of Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center who compiles the state’s drug death data, predicts a 4 percent increase over 2018.
She said opioids caused 84 percent of the deaths with man-made fentanyl being the most deadly, causing 187 deaths.
“The real elephant in the room is still the non-pharmaceutical fentanyl and analogs of fentanyl, sometimes in combination with heroin,” said Sorg, who has compiled the state’s drug death data for the Maine Attorney General’s Office since 2000.
Sorg said methamphetamine and cocaine overdose deaths also continue to rise in Maine, a trend that started around 2016.
Meth caused 29 deaths and cocaine or crack caused 79 deaths alone or in combination with other drugs, she said.
In 2018, 354 people in Maine died in drug overdose deaths.