Bangor has seen extra suspected drug overdoses this 12 months than Portland and Lewiston regardless of having a smaller inhabitants, based on knowledge from police.
The info don’t inform the complete story of what’s taking place, although, Bangor Police Division spokesperson Wade Betters stated. A drug overdose will go unreported if first responders aren’t referred to as, as an example.
As of Tuesday, Bangor police have responded to 140 suspected drug overdose calls up to now this 12 months, 18 of which have been deadly, based on Betters. These numbers don’t embrace overdoses through which a buddy or bystander administers Naloxone, a nasal spray that reverses a drug overdose, and the individual is taken to a hospital with out police being referred to as.
In the meantime, Portland, with a inhabitants greater than double Bangor’s, has seen 115 suspected overdoses, eight of which have been deadly, Betters stated. Lewiston has additionally seen 119 suspected overdoses, three of which have been deadly.
Betters stated overdoses are thought of suspected till police obtain toxicology ends in deadly overdose circumstances, which may take weeks.
Bangor’s preliminary overdose rely matches the rise in overdoses Penobscot County has seen lately, based on the Maine Drug Information Hub, a partnership between a number of state departments, the governor’s workplace and the College of Maine.
In 2021, Penobscot County noticed 105 overdoses, making up 15 p.c of the state’s complete 632 overdoses regardless of the county having solely 11 p.c of the Maine inhabitants, based on state knowledge.
The 12 months earlier than, Penobscot County had 94 overdoses, 19 p.c of the state’s annual complete of 504. In 2019, nonetheless, the county had solely 53 overdoses, making up 14 p.c of the 380 overdoses in Maine that 12 months.
Daniel Soucier, a analysis affiliate at UMaine’s Margaret Chase Smith Coverage Heart that gathers knowledge on Maine’s opioid disaster, stated it’s tough to pinpoint one cause why Bangor’s overdoses have doubled in just some years.
Overdoses throughout the U.S. normally comply with the development of the worldwide drug provide containing dangerous “cointoxicants” like fentanyl and different artificial opioids, as has been the case with Maine’s rising overdose charges, Soucier stated.
Drug overdoses in Maine began to rise round 2019 simply earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic, based on Robin Carr, Bangor Well being Division substance use prevention coordinator. Round that point, fentanyl turned extra outstanding in Maine’s drug provide, which made substances extra deadly.
Fentanyl is an artificial opioid that’s 100 occasions stronger than morphine, based on the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Illegally made fentanyl started showing in different medication offered within the unlawful U.S. drug market, comparable to heroin and cocaine, due to its euphoric impact.
With no odor or style, it’s practically not possible to inform if a drug is laced with fentanyl except it’s examined. And it doesn’t take a lot to have a lethal impact. Only a few grains of powder might be probably deadly, based on the CDC.
Of the entire deadly overdoses in Maine in 2021, fentanyl was discovered to be the reason for dying in 77 p.c of circumstances, based on state knowledge. That’s up from 67 p.c in 2020.
Social isolation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic additionally modified Mainers’ drug utilization, stated Carr and Soucier.
“People who have been in restoration or in secure drug use patterns started utilizing chaotically,” Soucier stated. “Additionally, the drug provide was interrupted and people typically purchased from sellers they didn’t know, making the availability unknown and fewer secure.”
Carr stated the sudden elimination of in-person therapy and assist when issues switched to a completely distant format was tough for these with substance use dysfunction, particularly in the event that they didn’t have entry to a pc.
“Some individuals have referred to as it an epidemic inside a pandemic,” Carr stated.
Regardless of the excessive overdose numbers from Bangor, Carr stated she’s inspired by the individuals in search of assist from Bangor’s restoration community.
“These issues are more durable to measure, however we’re seeing indicators that persons are reaching out for assist in methods they didn’t earlier than,” Carr stated. “It’s a gradual path ahead, however we really feel reassured that we’re placing these items into place which are confirmed efficient.”
Native and state sources just like the Bangor Well being Division and the Choices program work to make provides like Naloxone, clear syringes and fentanyl check strips available to these with Substance Use Dysfunction who are usually not prepared for restoration therapy. Carr stated one thing so simple as offering provides is “typically a life-saving service for individuals.”
Penobscot County can be dwelling to a number of restoration facilities, together with Northern Gentle’s Acadia Hospital and Penobscot Group Well being Heart’s Hope Home, that provide substance use therapy.