Maine faith leaders and advocates held an interfaith vigil on the third floor of the statehouse in Augusta this morning starting at 9:00 am and lasting for the rest of the morning.
The coalition joined in prayer, song and silent witness calling on Legislators to support prevention, harm reduction and treatment interventions to address the opioid crisis in Maine.
In 2017, Maine lost 418 people to drug overdoses, an estimated 150% increase over 2010. Since 2013, deaths from opioid overdoses in Maine have more than doubled. More than half of those 418 overdose deaths in 2017 were young adults – people in their twenties and thirties. An estimated 2/3 of those who died from overdoses did not have access to health care.
Lining the halls with long interconnected banners depicting silhouettes of 418 human bodies and holding signs with the depiction of 418 , about 215 participants in the vigil called on Legislators to pass and fund important legislation that would reduce deaths due to overdoses in Maine.
One of those pieces of legislation is LD 1707 – An Act To Reduce the Cost of Care Resulting from Blood-borne Infectious Diseases that will fund syringe exchange programs in Maine. A second piece of legislation supported by Moral Movement Maine is LD 1711 – To Save Lives by Establishing a Homeless Opioid Users Service Engagement PIlot Program within the Department of Health and Human Services. Itwould provide low-barrier treatment for Substance Use Disorders and stable housing to support recovery and create stability for 50 Maine people who use opioids and are homeless. The third piece of legislation that Moral Movement Maine highlighted this morning is: LD 1420 – An Act to Develop a Statewide Resource and Referral Center and Development Hub-and-Spoke Models to improve access, treatment and Recovery for those with Substance Use Disorder. This bill will create a comprehrensive approach to access and treatment for Mainers as well as fund medication assisted treatment for uninsured Mainers according to the press release issued by the non-profit today.
“At the heart of nearly every faith tradition spanning a wide range of beliefs, is the core idea that every life matters – that life is a gift from God, to be celebrated and cherished and protected – that no life is expendable,” said Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill, who also organized the sit-in at Senator Susan Collins (R-ME.) office in Portland last December. The faith leaders were arrested by the Portland Police Department and taken to Cumberland County Jail – from which they were released early the next day after paying bail.
Please visit post dated January 1, 2018 for more background information on Moral Movement Maine. And or click on the above right ad for Moral Movement Maine herein for more information.