Police in Portland are reporting more drug overdoses in the city, including what the department called “a big surge” at the end of 2023 that included three deaths.

New data from the department shows a jump to 20 overdoses in the final week of December 2023, including three fatalities. There had been only 10 overdoses the previous week.

“The trend hasn’t slowed in 2024, with three overdoses through the first two days,” the department said in a statement announcing the new data.

While the department noted that “It is typical to see a spike in numbers during the holiday season,” the data showed that the 34 overdoses recorded in November went up to 55 in December, an increase of 62%.  

For the year, Portland reported 527 overdoses in 2023, an increase from the 518 reported in 2022.

Statewide data suggests a positive annual trend for 2023, according to the Maine Drug Data Hub, an online resource provided by the Maine Attorney General’s Office and the state Office of Behavioral Health. 

The site did not yet have data for December 2023, but year-to-date data through November of 2023 showed a total of 9,135 overdoses statewide. Of those, 559, or 6.1%, were described as “confirmed and suspected” fatal cases.  

That’s down from 9,621 overdoses recorded from January through November of 2022, including 647 fatalities, or 6.7%.

In its statement, Portland police urged residents to observe “harm reduction strategies” such as the use of the emergency overdose treatment drug Narcan.

“PPD officers use Narcan on overdose victims at least once/week,” police said.

The drug, police said, is available at pharmacies and does not require a prescription. The city’s public health division also offers Narcan for free, along with training in overdose response.  

Anyone wishing to learn more may contact the division’s harm reduction services program coordinator, Kerri Barton, at (207) 541-6952, or kbarton@portlandmaine.gov

Police also encouraged the public to turn in expired or unneeded medication anytime, day or night, in the department’s lobby.