opioid addiction

Maine Public

As opioid addiction continues to be a widespread problem in Maine and throughout the country, it may be easy to forget that behind statistics and political debates there are real people coping with recovery, addiction and the pain these things can cause.

The number of opioid prescriptions being written by doctors in Maine declined by 32 percent between 2013 and 2017.

In 2017, opioid prescriptions numbers fell by 13.3 percent – the fifth biggest decline in the country.

The numbers released by the American Medical Association come from health data company IQVIA .

"Fewer prescriptions will mean fewer overdose deaths,” says Dr. Noah Nesin, vice president of Medical Affairs with Penobscot Community Health Care in Bangor.

AUGUSTA, Maine - At most 50 homeless opioid users could get access to treatment and housing under a Democrat's bill.
Democratic Rep. Drew Gattine's bill would create a pilot project aiming to provide vulnerable opioid users with access to treatment for substance use disorders and stable housing.
His bill is set for a work session Friday. Lawmakers have tabled the bill previously.
Gattine's bill calls for the Department of Health and Human Services to start the project by September.

Toby Talbot / Associated Press File

The maker of OxyContin, one of the most common prescription painkillers involved in opioid overdose deaths, will no longer market the drug to doctors, an announcement that came Saturday as Purdue Pharma faces a lawsuit for deceptive marketing brought by cities and counties across the U.S., including several in Maine.

The days of marketing opioids to U.S. doctors are over, according to a statement issued by Purdue Pharma. The drug manufacturer has also cut its sales force by more than half.

A vial of Naloxone, which can be used to block the potentially fatal effects of an opioid overdose, is shown Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, at an outpatient pharmacy at the University of Washington.
Ted S. Warren / AP Photo/File

Governor LePage and Attorney General Janet Mills have clashed on plenty of issues, but Mills says the governor’s critics misunderstand how the rulemaking process works and who has the final say.

Several lawmakers and the Maine Democratic party are blaming Gov. LePage for failing to implement a state law to allow the dispensing of naloxone, a drug that counters opioids in a person’s system, without a prescription. But according to Maine’s attorney general that criticism is misdirected.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to establish a pilot program to help 50 of Maine’s homeless residents get stable housing and treatment for opioid addiction. A bill presented to the Health and Human Services Committee today drew dozens of supporters during a public hearing. No one opposed the bill, but at least one lawmaker questioned whether it’s the best use of resources to tackle the problem.

Fifty of Maine's most vulnerable residents who are addicted to opioids would get access to treatment under a bill that the Maine Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee is considering Wednesday.

Dr. Renee Fay-Leblanc, chief medical officer of Greater Portland Health, says the bill establishes a pilot project that would also provide stable housing.

"This bill will allow patients to get to a place where they can be successful in traditional substance use programs, and it will save lives," Fay-Leblanc says.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public/file

It has been almost a year since a state task force finalized recommendations to address Maine’s opioid crisis.

The Department of Health and Human Services says it will spend $2.4 million on an initiative that will provide additional access to medication-assisted addiction treatment.

The announcement surprised treatment advocates, who have criticized the LePage administration for making it harder to access methadone and Suboxone amid an opioid crisis largely responsible for more than 270 overdose deaths last year.

Gov. Paul LePage continued his criticism of the state’s methadone clinics on Tuesday, vowing to cut state funding from clinics that don’t provide counseling to addicts.

Maine’s 10 methadone clinics are regulated by half a dozen state and federal agencies. Counseling is a requirement to dispense a drug that’s designed to help opioid addiction, but the governor believes only one or two clinics are providing counseling. The rest, he said, are merely distributing the drug.

He told Bangor radio station WVOM that those clinics will lose state funding next year if he has his way.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The nationwide crisis of heroin and opioid addiction has prompted 43 state governors to sign a compact that focuses on the over-prescribing painkillers, access to treatment and a life-saving overdose reversal drug.

But Maine Gov. Paul LePage declined to join the compact, saying the agreement is "simply a feel-good measure promoted by politicians in an election year."

The governor also objected to the compact specifically because it lacked a law enforcement component, according to a written statement from his spokesman, Peter Steele.

Methadone and Suboxone providers in Maine are warning that a proposal by the state Department of Health and Human Services could exacerbate the opioid crisis in Maine and potentially drive some drug treatment clinics out of business.

Susan Sharon / MPBN

Inmates at the Maine State Prison in Warren and the Maine Correctional Center in Windham have a new resource to help them maintain their sobriety: their peers. 

Susan Sharon / MPBN

One of the many challenges of Maine’s opioid epidemic is getting people into effective drug treatment as quickly as possible. A shortage of treatment providers means that some patients can wait weeks or months to be seen.

But in Brunswick, the Addiction Resource Center at Mid Coast Hospital has figured out how to cut those wait times to just a few days, and the effort appears to be paying off.

VCU Capital News Service / Flickr/Creative Commons

Legislation that would allow pharmacists to furnish the overdose antidote drug naloxone without a prescription in certain cases got broad support at a public hearing in Augusta today.