Opioid Epidemic: Maine Drug Deaths Increase in 2017

2/26/18, Maine First Media Staff Report,

More than 400 Mainers died of drug overdoses last year.

According to the Maine Attorney General Office, 85% of drug deaths involved either illegal opioids or legal opioids not prescribed to the victim.

The 418 deadly overdoses mark an increase of 11% from 2016. Overdoses were up 40% in 2016 compared to the prior year.

Driving the increase was an uptick in deaths from opioids, cocaine and methamphetamines.

But the biggest increase came in lives lost to fentanyl — a 27% increase from 2016.

Nearly a third of the victims (31%) had Narcan in their systems. That means someone had unsuccessfully tried to revive the victim.

The opioid epidemic is destroying lives, families and communities in Maine. In Portland, the 57 drug overdose deaths from 2017 represent more than one victim every week.

If-It-Feels-Good-Do-It Leftists often pitch more drugs as the answer to the opioid epidemic. They push for more legalization, lessening sentences, free treatment, providing free drugs to addicts, drug hotspots (often RV parks near parks) where it’s “safe to use,” and even having the State pay nurses to administer injections.

However, others — serious about fixing the problem — understand the answer is in curtailing the supply of illicit drugs, not making them more accessible.

Drug trafficking is now the most deadly criminal activity in American history. Below are a few steps that could be taken to move toward ending the fatal epidemic.

  • Creation of programs strictly regulating and monitoring prescriptions of painkillers.
  • Focusing law enforcement intelligence gathering on breaking up drug rings.
  • Making prevention education and treatment — for addicts who want help — readily available.
  • Implementing tough immigration laws to weed out trafficking.

In addition, some in the medical field are taking the initiative to stop addiction before it starts.

For many addicts, the addiction started following an injury or a surgery, when they were legally prescribed powerful painkillers. In fact, National Institutes of Health estimates about 80% of heroin users started with prescription pain medication.

Many Emergency Room doctors have started prescribing fewer painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone or fentanyl — and more anesthetics like dentists use. The results are a sharp reduction of opioid use, but still a numbing of pain.

As lives, families and communities continue to suffer from the opioid epidemic, innovative solutions are needed more desperately every day.

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