Sorg’s 2019 drug death report released by Maine Office of the Attorney General

AUGUSTA – In the wake of figures released by his office and the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, which show that drug overdose deaths increased in 2019, Attorney General Aaron M. Frey says that the report is a reminder that the opioid epidemic remains a powerful public health challenge for Maine.

“It is important as Maine, appropriately, focuses its energy on combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, that we also maintain and increase our efforts to fight the opioid epidemic,” said Frey. “The data in this report confirms how significant this crisis remains. It also highlights the importance of elected officials, individuals, organizations, and communities across the state to dedicate time and resources towards strengthening our public health infrastructure, which is crucial to combatting both COVID-19 and the opioid epidemic. I strongly support the ongoing efforts of my office, Governor Mills’s administration, legislators, and communities across Maine to help get us to the other side of this.

The report compiled by Dr. Marcella Sorg of the University of Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, showed that 380 deaths were caused by drugs in 2019. This is a 7% increase over 2018, but lower than the peak of 417 in 2017. The vast majority of the overdoses (84%) were caused by at least one opioid. The report also notes an increase in the involvement of non-opioid drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines. Most deaths were caused by a combination of two or more drugs.

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 Governor’s Opioid Task Force.