Syringes of the opioid painkiller fentanyl in an inpatient pharmacy. Credit: Rick Bowmer | AP

Despite a slight decrease in Maine overdose deaths during the first nine months of 2018, public health officials continue to warn about the urgency of the crisis.

They are also seeing alarming trends in which people are mixing other drugs with opioids to create deadly cocktails.

“Though we obviously welcome the slight reduction, the fact remains that the opioid epidemic is a public health crisis which is tearing apart Maine families and communities,” Attorney General Aaron Frey said.

The report, compiled by Dr. Marcella Sorg of the University of Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, indicated that there were 282 drug overdose fatalities in the first nine months of 2018. That’s a decrease from 297 drug fatalities during the same period in 2017.

The majority of the deaths were caused by fentanyl, at 61 percent.

The report also indicated that there was a rise in the number of deaths related to cocaine and methamphetamine, with cocaine increasingly being mixed with fentanyl and heroin.