AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — According to authorities, the drug problem in Maine has reached epidemic proportions. The state attorney general's office released new statistics Monday showing how fast the problem is growing.
In the first nine months of 2016, there have been 14 more deaths than there were in 2015. According to Attorney General Janet Mills, one person is dying every day from a drug overdose. In the first nine months of 2016, there have been 286 deaths because of a drug overdose, exceeding the number of deaths in 2015, where there were 272 drug overdose deaths.
Mills said the dramatic increase in deaths is because of illicitly manufactured fentanyl. She said the drug is being imported from Mexico and many people don't know they are taking fentanyl.
Of the 286 deaths so far, 68 percent are caused by at least one illicitly-manufactured drug, which includes heroin, cocaine or meth. Sixty-four percent of deaths are due to illicitly manufactured opioid drugs, including heroin, morphine and non-pharmaceutical fentanyl.
"There isn't a pill that'll make you happy. There isn't a pill that'll make you successful. There isn't a drug that's going to answer all the problems you have in life," Mills said. "That's why people take these drugs. We've got to provide treatment out there and public education to ward off this epidemic and to get people help when they need it."
According to Mills, Narcan has saved 33 lives in the last couple months. She said there needs to be an all hands on deck approach to this issue. Mills hopes the Legislature will discuss the drug problem as one of their first orders of business.