New statewide data shows fewer drug overdose deaths in Maine so far this year compared to 2022, but fentanyl-related deaths are becoming more prevalent, more so than opioids alone. 

The data comes from the Maine Drug Data Hub, a site run by multiple state agencies and the governor’s office, together with the University of Maine. The site collects data related to substance use disorders, including a monthly tally of overdose data. 

According to the latest report, which includes October 2023, there were 480 drug overdose deaths statewide from January through October. That is a drop compared to the 723 overdose deaths reported in Maine through the same period in 2022. 

But the data concerning what kinds of drugs were involved points to an increase in the prevalence of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. According to the data, fentanyl by itself was responsible for 373 of those 480 overdose deaths, or 78%. That is up from the 77% reported over the same period in 2022. 

The data also showed an increase in the use of fentanyl in combination with some other drugs. For example, there were a reported 173 deaths through October 2023 involving cocaine overdoses. In those cases, the data showed fentanyl was used in combination with cocaine in 143 of those deaths, or 30%. That is an increase over the 24% reported through October 2022. In deaths involving use of the animal tranquilizer xylazine, fentanyl was also used in 9% of those deaths, up from 7% reported in 2022.  

The data shows fentanyl is also still being used in combination with heroin and methamphetamine, but the percentages from 2022 to 2023 did not change. 

Along with the decline of overdose deaths overall, the data also showed a decline in pharmaceutical opioid overdoses. According to the data, the number of deaths went from 156, or 22% of all overdose deaths through October of 2022, to 89 deaths, or 19% of all overdose deaths reported so far this year.