AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Maine legislators are wrapping up a report they anticipate will have a positive impact on a scourge here in the state: the Opioid crisis. Maine loses at least one person to overdoses every day.
The Taskforce to address the Opioid Epidemic in Maine has been working for many months on this report. While they don’t have all the solutions, they call it a start.
They know that every second counts in this battle that has taken too many Mainers.
“This is not a moral failing, there are things we can do, we have treatments that are effective.” Harpswell Representative Jay Creighton is one of the eight legislators on the task force, hammering out what they hope is a better path to healing and reversing a horrid crisis. Like many, for her, it’s personal. “My mom, several years ago fell and broke her neck and she broke what’s the first vertebrae, which they call the hangman’s vertebrae. She was in excruciating pain.”
Creighton says she was given opioids to help allay the pain. She came to rely on them and, in her 80’s, she was hooked. Though a difficult journey, hers was a happy ending.
Others, like Sergeant Matt Baker, weren’t so fortunate. “I knew that she was overdosing, her fingers were blue, her lips were blue, her eyes weren’t open all the way.”
When Baker found his daughter, it was too late. Ronni was 23, a young mother, accomplished: proof that the opioid crisis doesn’t discriminate. “It’s young people, it’s old people it’s doctors, nurses, police officers, high school kids, I mean it’s everybody.”
The Task Force Report takes on the state’s 2-1-1 Emergency System, calling for easier and quicker response time for anyone in crisis who calls for help.
The group also calls for more money to be allocated toward increasing emergency housing and services; more beds and more slots in the state of Maine. “Absolutely so that we don’t have to send people out of state where we can’t monitor the program, there’ve been some not so great programs,” Creighton explained.
The report also calls for removing the stigma of substance use disorder. “So instead of an addict, it’s a person with substance use disorder or a person with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, whatever it might be.”
And…the task force concludes early prevention and treatment and education are critical.
“If all of our recommendations are implemented, we’ll see change but we won’t be done. Absolutely. It’s a long-term, ongoing strategy that needs to happen.”
Creighton says she is encouraged by science---new drugs and new approaches that every day bring hope to people struggling with addiction. are bringing
The task force—which includes the attorney general, a sheriff, a judge, healthy and policy experts, will go over the final wording of the report on the 12th….and then it will be published. There is a website where the report will be posted at maine.gov