Submission Type

Original Research


Introduction: Drug-related deaths in Maine increased by 23% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the last quarter of 2019. Most of these deaths were accidental overdoses involving at least one opioid, and 65% of these deaths were caused by fentanyl, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Methods: This research explored substance use in Maine during 2020. Among the sample of individuals, 46% were homeless and receiving recovery services at a buprenorphine-assisted treatment program at a federally qualified health center in Maine. Charts of 35 patients were reviewed for emergency room visits and urine drug screens.

Results: In the sample, 20% of individuals screened positive for fentanyl, 22% screened positive for methamphetamines, and 20% screened positive for cocaine. In the first month after lockdown, the presence of fentanyl and methamphetamines in urine drug screens doubled compared to before the lockdown. In the months after lockdown, the amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamines in drug screens and the number of emergency room visits increased.

Discussion: Examples of Maine’s harm-reduction strategies are discussed. These results highlight the urgency to implement more drastic measures statewide, especially among individuals who are homeless and have an opioid and/or a stimulant use disorder.

Conclusion: Greater recovery services are required for individuals who are homeless and have a substance use disorder in the aftermath of the pandemic.



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