Drug overdose deaths rose for a sixth straight year in Maine due to an influx of deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil.
Attorney General Janet Mills is warning Maine residents about the increasing threat synthetic opioids pose, which has “invaded our state.” Mills released a state drug-death report Thursday, which shows fatal overdoses rose 11 percent in 2017 due to an influx of fentanyl, which can be 30-to-50 times more potent than a dose of heroin, according to Sea Coast Online.
Fentanyl overdoses jumped 27 percent in 2017 in Maine, pushing drug overdose deaths up from 378 in 2016 to 418 in 2017. Mills also noted an increase in deaths connected to carfentanil — an analog or synthetic version of fentanyl roughly 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. The substance is typically used as an elephant tranquilizer.
“Fentanyl has invaded our state, killing 247 people last year alone,” Mills said, according to Sea Coast Online. “Five of these deaths were due to the lethal drug, carfentanil. When people ingest this powerful powder, they often believe it is heroin and have been told its heroin. The equivalent of a few grains of fentanyl can take your life. It is so dangerous that the federal DEA has warned police and public-safety personnel to guard against exposure to fumes from fentanyl powder.”
Fentanyl is blamed as the primary driver of the addiction crisis and rising overdose deaths across the country. Dealers increasingly cut the substance into heroin and cocaine supplies to maximize profits.
Fentanyl continues to pour into the country due to the relentless efforts of drug cartels trying to take advantage of America’s debilitating opioid epidemic. The substance is primarily manufactured in China and is either shipped to cartels before being smuggled across the border or sent directly to dealers in America through the U.S. Postal Service.
Fentanyl overtook heroin as the U.S.’s deadliest substance in 2016, claiming 19,413 lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nationally, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016.
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