Governor Signs Order to Start Combating Opioid Epidemic

Governor Janet T. Mills at Press Conference (In Red) in Her Cabinet Room. Corrections Commissioner Randy Liberty, (L) and Director of Opioid Response Gordon Smith and DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew on Far Right.

Governor Janet T. Mills, Maine’s first woman Governor, signed an Executive Order today directing her administration to take immediate steps to begin combating the opioid crisis here in Maine. The Order, signed at noon, outlines initial actions that will be taken by the administration, as overseen by Gordon Smith, the Director of Opioid Response, to prevent overdose deaths, including treatment and recovery efforts and bolster prevention efforts – all of which will be done in a manner to reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorders.

At her inauguration speech last month in Augusta, the Governor reached out to those suffering from opioid addition, when she told them: “You are not alone. We are there for you.”

The Order includes the distribution of 35,000 doses of narcan for distribution throughout the state, creating positions for 250 trained recovery coaches, placing medication-assisted treatment into Maine jails and prisons and funding a full-time recovery coach in ten emergency departments in Maine. The cost of launching this initial step is $1.6 million. The Governor stated that federal money is already in the current budget and has been sitting there unused by the prior Governor Paul LePage.

Following the press conference, Mr. Smith explained that “the previous administration did not support a lot of initiatives in opioid treatment and harm reduction. Therefore, the money ($l.6 million) that was there, former governor Paul LePage did not use and their designation was that they remain unspent. This is a downpayment on what we need,” Smith said. He would not speculate on what the total might be.

Please visit post herein dated February 5, 2019 for more background information.