Maine Opiate Collaborative Presents Task Force Recomendations

Maine Opiate Collaborative Presents Task Force Recomendations

Created on: Monday, May 09, 2016
Author: Gordon Smith

The Collaborative was established last Fall by U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty, Attorney General Janet Mills and Commissioner of Public Safety John Morris. MMA was a member of the Board of the Collaborative. The three Task Forces, chaired by volunteers and made of experts in addiction, treatment, patients in recovery, law enforcement officers and others each met nearly a dozen times. The Collaborative also held 20 community forums across the state that were attended by more than 1500 people. Each of the Task Forces were given summaries of the comments and recommendations made by the public which helped to inform the final recommendations. The community forums were supported financially by the Maine Health Access Foundation and the Maine Community Foundation.

Some of the recommendations have already been achieved, such as the limits on opioid prescribing established in PL Chapter 488.   Others are readily achievable. But other recommendations are expensive and time-consuming and will require time, effort and state or federal funding to accomplish. What follows are highlights of the Task Force recommendations.  The full set of recommendations will be available on either the U.S. Attorney's website or the MMA website soon and each issue of the Update for the next few weeks will feature one or more of the Task Force recommendations.

Prevention/Harm Reduction Task Force

Goal 1:  Promote good public health and safety, and reduce the harmful effects of opiate use.

  • Objective 1.  Increase understanding of harms and decrease stigma surrounding opiate and heroin use disorder.
  • Objective 2:  Decrease youth use of opiates and associated risk factors.
  • Objective 3:  Reduce unnecessary access to legal opiates.
  • Objective 4:  Decrease the number of drug-affected babies born in Maine each year.
  • Objective 5:  Decrease opiate overdose and death in Maine.
  • Objective 6:  Increase opportunities and decrease barriers to recovery for people with substance use disorders.

Goal 2:   Strengthen and enhance Maine's public health infrastructure to prevent and reduce opiate use disorders and overdose deaths.

  • Objective 1:  Enhance the state's capacity to implement a comprehensive approach to prevent and reduce opiate use disorders.
  • Objective 2:  Increase district and local level capacity to prevent and reduce opiate misuse and overdose in Maine.

Detailed strategies are included with each of the objectives in the Prevention Task Force reports.

The Treatment Task Force divided its recommendations into those presented by a Treatment Team and those recommendations involving specialty populations such as adolescents, women and children (also drug courts and and corrections).  

The Treatment Team recommendations are extensive and call for:

  • increasing Medication Assisted Treatment  (MAT) in primary care;
  • rationalizing prescribing for opioids;
  • immediately expanding addiction treatment services - prioritizing the integration of MAT across the state;
  • enhancing availability of insurance, and addressing the needs of special populations.

The Law Enforcement Task Force identified five areas of discussion and established subcommittees in order to develop recommendations covering each of the five subject areas:  

1.  Cultural/Attitudinal Education and Training

2.  Investigation

3.  Law Enforcement Community Initiatives

4.  Problem Solving Courts

5.  Custodial Treatment & Re-Entry with Treatment

Through the course of its work, the Law EnforcementTask Force ultimately made the following recommendations:  

  • train all existing and new law enforcement personnel on the science of substance use disorders;
  • identify, investigate, and prosecute the most dangerous drug traffickers;
  • support and encourage effective law enforcement diversion programs;
  • increase statewide access to effective problem solving courts; and,
  • provide custodial treatment for county jail inmates with substance use disorders and to provide case management services for re-entry into the community.  

A huge thank you goes to the co-chairs and many volunteers who worked for over six months to prepare these far-reaching and detailed recommendations. Work will continue to proceed in order to measure the implementation of the recommendations.

Visitor Comments

Richard Avery (Friday, July 08, 2016)


I totally agree that treatment plans for that already addicted to opiates need to be modified with more accessibility and treatment plans. But an issue that is not being addressed in depth and fully, is how to reduce the opportunities for addiction in the medical prescription arena. There are many cases where pain management can be controlled with out the use of opioid medications. There also needs to be better initial screening of patients before opioids are prescribed to those patients who may have a higher risk of developing a dependency. rnThis is becoming an epidemic that can be prevented or at least greatly reduced by all working together.

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