Governor Mills Convenes Virtually 2nd Annual Opioid Response Summit


Governor Janet T. Mills at a Deering Oaks Park, Portland, Meeting.

Governor Janet T. Mills is convening her second annual Opioid Response Summit on Thursday, July 23, 2020.  The Summit comes after a recent report from the Maine Attorney General’s Office that shows rising harm from the opioid epidemic occurring in Maine, in line with national trends.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General of the United States, is the keynote speaker.  As Surgeon General, Dr. Murthy issued the first Surgeon General’s Report calling for expanded access to prevention and substance use disorder treatment and recognizing addiction as a chronic illness rather than a moral failing.  He is the author of the recently published book, “Together, the Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World.”

His appearance underscores the 2020 Summit’s theme, “Compassion, Community, Connection,” which reflects the personal and societal stigma of substance use disorder and the conditions needed to advance and support recovery, particularly given the challenges of COVID-19.

In a reflection of national trends, deaths from drugs in Maine increased by 23% in the first three months of 2020, compared to the final three months of 2019, and remained on that trajectory into the month of June.  Opioids were a contributing factor in over 80% of the drug-related deaths that have occurred this year.  This information was released in a report issued by the Attorney-General’s office on Friday, July 17, 2020.  The report also stated that based on a preliminary analysis of the second quarter – from April – May, it is indicated that a continuation of this trend compared to 2019 will continue.  The report was compiled by Dr. Marcella Song of the University of Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center.

The full-day program will prominently feature the voices of people in recovery, including live presentations with Q&A and panel discussions.  Topics include opioid preventation, treatment, recovery support, harm reduction and approaches to the opioid epidemic during the pandemic.  A short documentary film about the recovery journey of an individual in Washington County will also premiere at the Summit.

The program begins at 8:20 am and concludes at 2:30 pm.  State officials participating include Jeanne Lambrew, AG Aaron Frey, Dr. Jessica Pollard, Dr. Nirav D. Shah, and Gordon Smith.