Drug overdose deaths in Maine rose in 2019, according to a state report.

There were 380 overdose deaths last year, up from 354 in 2018 but less than the peak of 417 in 2017.

Knox County had seven drug overdose deaths last year. Lincoln County had 11 and Waldo County three, according to a report from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center of the University of Maine.

In 2018, Knox has six deaths, Lincoln six, and Waldo nine.

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey says the report is a reminder that the opioid epidemic remains a powerful public health challenge for Maine.

“It is important as Maine, appropriately, focuses its energy on combating the COVID-19 pandemic, that we also maintain and increase our efforts to fight the opioid epidemic,” Frey said in a written statement issued May 1.

“The data in this report confirms how significant this crisis remains. It also highlights the importance of elected officials, individuals, organizations, and communities across the state to dedicate time and resources towards strengthening our public health infrastructure, which is crucial to combating both COVID-19 and the opioid epidemic. I strongly support the ongoing efforts of my office, Governor Mills’s administration, legislators, and communities across Maine to help get us to the other side of this.”

The vast majority of the overdoses (84%) were caused by at least one opioid. The report also notes an increase in the involvement of non-opioid drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines. Most deaths were caused by a combination of two or more drugs.

One tool used by law enforcement to save lives is the use of naloxone by police officers.

The Knox County Sheriff's Office reported that since January 2019, it responded to 22 overdose calls where the person was still alive. In 11 of those responses, naloxone was administered and revived the person, preventing additional overdose deaths.

Officers received training on the use of the life-saving drug from paramedics.

The department has taken the lead in efforts to help people recover from addiction. Sheriff Tim Carroll is chair of the Knox County Recovery Collaborative.

The county works with inmates when they are released to make sure they can connect to services needed to make recovery.