More Than 400 Mainers Died From Drug Overdoses In 2017

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PORTLAND, Maine (WMTW) More than 400 Mainers died from drug overdoses in 2017, an increase of 11 percent from the previous year, Attorney General Janet Mills announced Thursday.

Out of the 418 deaths, the youngest person was 18. The oldest was 94.

The rise in deaths is primarily due to illicit fentanyl, Mills said.

Fentanyl is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin.

A total of 376 Mainers died from drug overdoses in 2016.

The 11 percent increase from 2016 to 2017 is smaller than the 38 percent increase from 2015 to 2016.

In addition to fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine played a part in the increase, according to Mills.

The majority of drug-related deaths included two or more drugs, Mills said. Eighty-five percent of deaths included at least one opioid.

Naloxone was detected in about a third of overdose victims, indicating a life-saving attempt was made.

Portland saw more than one overdose death a week. Cumberland, York and Penobscot counties had the most deaths.

"Fentanyl has invaded our state," Mills said in a statement, "killing 247 people last year alone. Five of these deaths were due to the lethal drug carfentanil. When people ingest this powerful powder, they often believe it is heroin, and have been told it's heroin."

Carfentanil has been used as an elephant tranquilizer and is described as 100 times more powerful than fentanyl.

The data comes from Marcella H. Sorg, PhD, at the University of Maine.

Data provided by Mills' office shows where the deaths occurred.


Androscoggin: 25 deaths (21 involving opioids)

Aroostook: Less than 10 deaths (actual number not provided)

Cumberland: 109 deaths (94 involving opioids)]

Hancock: Less than 10 deaths (actual number not provided)

Kennebec: 47 deaths (43 involving opioids)

Knox: 11 deaths (8 involving opioids)

Oxford: Less than 10 deaths (actual number not provided)

Penobscot: 65 deaths (50 involving opioids)

Somerset: 18 deaths (16 involving opioids)

Washington: 13 deaths (12 involving opioids)

York: 82 deaths (67 involving opioids)

Franklin, Lincoln, Piscataquis, Sagadahoc and Waldo counties were not included in the data.

The Maine Attorney General's Office also provided data on how many drug overdoses are happening in Maine's most populous cities.

Augusta: 14 deaths (13 involving opioids)

Bangor: 30 deaths (20 involving opioids)

Biddeford: 23 deaths (20 involving opioids)

Lewiston: 17 deaths (15 involving opioids)

Portland: 57 deaths (51 involving opioids)

Sanford: 12 deaths (11 involving opioids)