The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office is investigating six fatal overdoses that occurred in the Sebago Lake region in less than two months, including five in a three-week span, Sheriff Kevin Joyce said Monday.

Four of the fatal overdoses between Dec. 1 and Jan. 24 occurred in Standish. The department also responded to 11 calls to provide medical attention to people who overdosed but survived.

During the same period, the sheriff’s office arrested and charged 28 individuals with various drug crimes. Police have seized 11 different types of drugs, including narcotics, stimulants and others, Joyce said.

Joyce said the investigation will attempt to determine what types of drugs were involved and if the overdoses are connected.

“The significant increase in fatal overdoses is alarming and we continue to aggressively apprehend dealers. It is important to educate the public that these drugs are deadly,” Joyce said in a statement. “We cannot continue to watch our friends and relatives struggle with addiction, endanger themselves, and continue to use substances which can potentially lead to an overdose or their death.”

Last year was on track to set a state record for drug-related deaths, according to data released in January by the Maine Attorney General’s Office. In the first nine months of 2020, 380 people in Maine died from drug overdoses, the same number as in all of 2019. The high of 417 was set in 2017 at the height of the opioid crisis.

In a little less than five years, more than 1,900 people have lost their lives to drug overdoses in Maine.

Experts have said the coronavirus pandemic has likely worsened the opioid crisis. The January report from the AG’s office notes that the increase in Maine mirrors national trends and is “likely due at least in part to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and related mitigation measures: isolation, avoidance of or difficulty accessing medical services, and alterations in the illicit drug supply.”

The powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl is still the deadliest drug, linked to 65 percent of all deaths, often in combination with other drugs. Heroin or morphine were linked to 12 percent of deaths; cocaine or crack showed up in 25 percent and methamphetamine was present in 16 percent.

More information about substance use disorder support and resources is available by calling 211, emailing [email protected], visiting the Maine 211 website, visiting the state’s Know Your Options resource page or visiting the DHHS Office of Behavioral Health’s resource page 

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