State officials have launched a new public education campaign aimed at stemming the abuse of prescription painkillers in Maine.

The campaign includes a new website and three television spots designed to give Mainers a “Dose of Reality” about painkillers, Attorney General Janet Mills announced this week.

Drug overdose deaths in Maine soared by 30 percent in 2015, reaching a high of 272 fatalities. The vast majority of the deaths were caused by heroin, fentanyl or prescription opioids, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

“Prescription drugs have killed more than a thousand Mainers in the last 10 years and addiction has devastated many, many more lives,” Mills said in a statement. “Nearly four out of five people arrested for heroin possession say they began by abusing painkillers. Too many Mainers are misusing, abusing and dying from painkillers, heroin and other narcotics.”

Mills said too many painkillers are diverted from legitimate medical uses. An analysis by the state Medical Examiner’s Office showed that 7 percent of those who died of prescription medication overdoses in 2015 had a doctor’s prescription at the time of their death.

The three TV commercials released as part of the Dose of Reality campaign show a mother finding an unresponsive son, a girl slumped over at a party and a teammate passing a painkiller to an injured friend. The website has information about the dangers of painkillers, the safe acquisition, safe handling and proper disposal of the substances.

“We all have an important role to play in stemming the tide of addiction and opiate overdose deaths in our state,” Mills said. “I hope these ads will spark conversations in homes and schools across Maine and educate everyone about the importance of proper handling of painkillers before tragedy strikes one more Maine family.”

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