Understanding the Problem - What's Happening in Maine

The following articles and data are intended to give the reader a sense of the scale of the opioid epidemic in Maine which has grown dramatically in the last few years.
Fueled by opioid crisis, drug overdose deaths on record pace in Maine

August 23, 2016 by Joe Lawlor, staff writer
     In the first six months of this year, there were 189 drug overdose deaths in the state, a 50 percent increase over the same period last year.  Fueled by the opioid crisis, drug overdose deaths continue to skyrocket in Maine, with the state on pace this year to exceed last year’s record by almost 40 percent.  Addiction to opioids – including heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers – is causing most of the deaths.
    There were 189 drug overdose deaths in Maine through June 30, a 50 percent increase over the same period in 2015, when there were 126 overdose deaths, according to the Maine Attorney General’s Office. If the pace continues, there would be 378 overdose deaths this year. In 2015, 272 people died from drug overdoses in Maine.
    “This is just horrendous,” said Mary Jeralds of Lebanon, whose son David Zysk Jr. died of a heroin overdose in November 2015 at age 33. “I thought we were getting somewhere, but these numbers are really discouraging.”   Read the complete article...

State of the State: Maine’s Opioid Crisis

Current Landscape & What Lies Ahead
This Power Point presentation from Feb. 5, 2016, includes  considerable information on the nature and extent of the opioid crisis, how prescription medications have contributed to it, and what clinicians and others can do about it.   Read more...


Thomas E. Delahanty II
Janet T. Mills John E. Morris
United States Attorney District  of Maine Attorney General State of Maine Commissioner Department of Public Safety

May 6, 2016

     The Maine Opiate Collaborative was formed after Governor Paul LePage held a Summit in August  2015 to  address the heroin/opiate epidemic in Maine.
     The announcement of a coalition to address the issues of supply, demand and addiction brought a resounding response from Maine citizens and experts who volunteered time and expertise. The Collaborative sought to bring together professionals and experts in the field of law enforcement, education, prevention/harm reduction, and treatment.
     Three Task Forces focused on the primary issues in these respective areas and these groups met regularly from approximately October 2015 to identify and address the areas within their subject expertise.  As part of this process, the Collaborative also held more than 20 public forums across the state that were attended by more than 1200 concerned Maine citizens. Attendees told the panels about the impact of opiates on their lives and offered advice of what can be done.
     MNPA member Patricia Hamilton, FNP, was a member of the Collaborative's Treatment Task Force.

   In Maine, deaths attributed to fentanyl rose to 87 in 2015, up from 42 in 2014 and nine in 2013, an 867 percent increase in two years.  Fentanyl deaths represented nearly one third of Maine's 272 opioid deaths in 2015.  Read more...