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Low barrier opioid treatment expands across Maine

The program accepts patients as soon as they request it, cutting out the traditional wait time.

BANGOR, Maine — For 2 1/2 years, the Bridge Clinic has used a “low barrier” method to treat opioid use disorder. It’s been so successful that it’s expanding statewide.

Six centers from around the state will adopt the practice of accepting patients as quickly as possible, skipping an entry process that could take more than a week. Dr. Noah Nesin oversaw Bangor’s program and will help guide the statewide effort.

"Over the course of that 2 1/2 years, several hundred people have been treated through the Bridge Clinic that would not have been able to get treatment in any of the established outpatient recovery programs," Nesin said. "Certainly not in primary care settings."

The six federally-qualified health centers treat upwards of 200,000 patients.

Gordon Smith, who leads Maine’s opioid response efforts, said this can be critical while COVID exacerbates addiction problems.

"We continue to see a spike in fatal overdoses," he said during a Wednesday press conference.

The expansion is expected to be in place by the end of November.

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