Attorney General: Fatal drug overdoses continue to rise in Maine

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AUGUSTA — Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said overdose deaths related to illegal drugs, including heroin and fentanyl, continue to climb.

Since January, 105 people have died from an overdose in Maine, according to a release issued by Mills’ office.

“These numbers are terribly distressing,” Mills said. “The first six months of 2015 show that this crisis continues unabated and we — everyone in the state of Maine — still have a great deal of work to do to get this under control. We need to address this crisis from all angles: education, prevention, treatment and interdiction.”

Mills said 37 of those deaths were from heroin and another 26 were attributed to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is often sold on the street as a heroin substitute — although it is far more potent, according to agents with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

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In all of 2014, 208 people died of overdoses, 57 primarily attributable to heroin and 43 primarily attributable to fentanyl.

The new numbers and Mills’ statement come just ahead of an Aug. 26 drug summit that’s been called by Maine’s Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Mills is among those invited to participate in the summit, but some have been critical of LePage for focusing more on stopping drug dealers than on treatment for addicts.

Mills warned would-be drug users Thursday of heroin’s danger.

“It cannot be stressed enough,” she said. “You do not take heroin; it takes you.”

Those seeking treatment and help with a drug problem for themselves or somebody they know should dial 211.

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