Focus Area: Leadership

The Focus Area: Leadership dashboard contains information and metrics regarding Priority A of the State’s Opioid Response Strategic Action Plan which is to take decisive, evidence-based and community focused actions in response to Maine’s opioid crisis. Metrics include the following:

  • Increases in the capacity for the State to respond to the opioid epidemic
  • The growth of keystone State initiatives including OPTIONS, OD MAP, and spike alerts
  • Surveillance data regarding fatal overdoses and other actionable data that the State is using to respond to the crisis that are not listed in the other four Focus Areas (Prevention, Harm Reduction, Treatment, and Recovery) in the Strategic Action Plan

At the end of each metric and in the informational narratives below there are citations to the Strategy or sub-Strategy from the Opioid Response Strategic Action Plan that is addressed or measured.

Problematic substance use and substance use disorder remains a top priority for the State of Maine

The State provides strong leadership and coordination among prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery strategies. This is achieved through the combined leadership from the Director of Opioid Response, the Prevention and Recovery Cabinet, the Opioid Coordinating Council, the Clinical Advisory Committee, and the Opioid Data Sharing Committee. (Strategy 1.a)

State leadership has taken the following steps to respond to the overdose crisis and problematic substance use in Maine

Executive Order 2 (2019): An Order to Implement Immediate Responses to Maine’s Opioid Epidemic: February 6, 2019, the governor outlined 25 actions to be taken by the State of Maine to reduce overdose deaths, expand treatment and recovery efforts, focus on drug misuse prevention, and curtail stigma.

Maine Opioid Response Strategic Action Plan: The Strategic Action Plan contains the five focus areas that provide structure to the Maine Drug Data Hub. They all work toward the goal of reducing the negative health and economic impacts of substance use disorder for Mainers and their communities. (Strategy 1.b; 1.c)

Maintain and enhance the Governor’s Office of Policy, Innovation & Future website for Opioid Response and Prevention: The GOPIF website for Opioid Response and Prevention houses meeting minutes, updated documents, recovery resources, links to the opioid response seminar series, and other web-based resources. (Strategy 1.d)

Opioid Response Summits: The annual Opioid Response Summit—and monthly Seminar Series—brings together leaders from across the State and nation to share ideas, strategies and best practices to mitigate the substance use disorder crisis in Maine. The 2022 Summit will take place in Bangor on July 11, 2022. (Strategy 1.f)

The Accidental Drug Overdose Review Panel: On June 22, 2021 emergency legislation was signed to establish an Accidental Drug Overdose Review Panel. The law, approved overwhelmingly by the Legislature, created an accidental drug overdose review panel within the Office of the Attorney General. The panel is charged with reviewing a subset of overdoses in order to learn from the circumstances surrounding the deaths and adjust policies when needed, with the goal of reducing fatal and nonfatal drug overdoses in the State. (Strategy 1.h)

The OPTIONS initiative (Overdose Prevention Through Intensive Outreach, Naloxone, and Safety): This program, announced by Governor Mills in October 2020, contracts behavioral health and recovery professionals to work alongside local law enforcement, EMS, and harm reduction professionals to create and dispatch mobile response teams in every Maine county. (Strategy 14.a)

State of Maine leadership is dedicated to holding manufacturers and distributors of illicit substances accountable

The Maine Department of Corrections (MDOC), which operates six adult facilities throughout Maine aims to reduce the likelihood that juvenile and adult offenders will re-offend, by providing practices and identifying individuals who could benefit from programs and services which are evidence-based and which hold offenders accountable.

This metric tracks the number of residents admitted to the MDOC for new sentences with a primary sentence for a drug crime. The preponderance of primary sentences are for furnishing drugs. Only 4.41% of men and 2.33% of women incarcerated during 2020 were charged with the primary offense of drug possession. This metric is an indicator of individuals incarcerated for drug-related crime. This data is reported annually. (Strategy 1.m)

Source: Maine Department of Corrections. Annual Report on Substance Use, 2022.

The State promotes and supports local and regional community engagement efforts

A key strategy in the State of Maine’s Opioid Response Strategic Action Plan is to support local and regional community engagement efforts. Through the Maine Recovery Hub, the state of Maine supports the growth and sustainability of Recovery Community Centers throughout the state. In 2020 the number of Centers increased from 9 to 13 locations. (Strategy 3.a)

Source: Maine Recovery Hub and the Office of Behavioral Health.

  • Recovery Community Center Funded by Maine Recovery Hub
  • Additional Recovery Community Centers
  • Peer Run Recovery Centers

Source: Office of Behavioral Health.

The State of Maine committed to educating individuals and organizations regarding the realities of substance use disorder, how individuals are affected, and that recovery is not only possible, but probable

The State continues to develop and implement evidence-based public messaging campaigns, provide educational opportunities for clinicians, and promote recovery friendly workplaces, campuses, and communities. Through public forums, the promotion of film and storytelling, as well as the OPTIONS campaign, the State is creating more opportunities for individuals, families, and others affected by substance use disorder to tell their personal stories of addiction and recovery. (Strategy 4)

Voices of Survival

“I get to see that spark in others!”
“It can happen to anyone.”
“It is okay that your path does not look like mine.”
“I was unable to separate myself from heroin without a little help from the police”

For more voices of recovery from Maine, visit the “Stories” page of of the Know Your OPTIONS website. (Strategy 4.e)

The State is maximizing the collection and dissemination of actionable data and evaluating the impacts of interventions

Beginning in January 2021, the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and the Office of Behavioral Health began releasing a monthly fatal and nonfatal overdose report in addition to the quarterly and annual fatal overdose reports released by the Office of the Attorney General. This report surveils both the suspected and confirmed fatal overdoses as well as nonfatal opioid overdoses reported by Emergency Departments, ME EMS, law enforcement, and the Maine Naloxone Distribution Initiative.

For detailed information regarding the most recent monthly overdose report please visit The Maine Drug Data Hub: Monthly Overdose Dashboard. (Strategy 5)

Fatal Drug Overdoses in Maine during September 2023

Fatal Drug Overdoses in Maine Jan – Sep 2023

Source: Maine Monthly Overdose Report for September 2023

In addition to the monthly fatal and nonfatal overdose report the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner are still surveilling drug deaths in Maine on a quarterly and annual basis. These reports are released once the toxicology for decedents are completed and suspected overdoses are either confirmed or not. In addition to monitoring drug deaths, the substance or combination of substances involved in deaths are reported as are information regarding the manner of death, county trends, event and response characteristics, and demographic information. (Strategy 5)

For detailed information regarding the most recent quarterly overdose report please visit The Maine Drug Data Hub: Quarterly Fatal Overdose Dashboard.

For detailed information regarding the most recent annual overdose report please visit The Maine Drug Data Hub: Annual Fatal Overdose Dashboard.

Fatal overdose rose 15% in the State of Maine during 2022 compared to 2021.

Fatal Drug Overdoses in Maine 2022

Drug deaths totaled 723 during 2022, a 15% increase over the 631 occurring during 2021. This pattern, similar to that seen in many other states, is likely due at least in part to the effects of the covid-19 pandemic: isolation, avoidance of medical services, and alterations in the illicit drug supply. The high number of fatal overdoses continues to be driven by illicit, nonpharmaceutical fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, totaling 560 during 2022, 77% of deaths. In contrast, pharmaceutical opioids were mentioned as a cause of death in 156 cases, 22% of deaths. Approximately one-third of opioid deaths (182, 25%) received naloxone at some point near the time of their death. Finally, the has been a rise in stimulant involvement in drug fatalities over the past several years. In 2022 213 (29%) involved cocaine while 243 (32%) involved methamphetamine. It is important to note that all drugs involved in drug deaths are listed as a cause of death and these substances listed above are not mutually exclusive. Fentanyl was listed as a cause of death in 80% of cocaine fatalities and 81% of methamphetamine fatalities. (Strategy 5)

Source: The Maine Drug Data Hub: Quarterly Fatal Overdose Dashboard

The State is committed to sharing key data regarding problematic substance use and substance use disorder to inform the public and guide policy and program design

In January 2021 the State of Maine partnered with the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine to launch the Maine Drug Data Hub. The goal of the Hub is to act as a one-stop-shop for data, reports, and resources regarding timely and actionable substance use, substance use disorder, and overdose data. Most metrics on the Hub are reported at a monthly cadence to increase public transparency around the opioid epidemic in Maine and the State’s response. Further, having a central data location informs policymakers and aides in programatic design, interventions, and informed policy formation. (Strategy 5.e; 5.f.).

From January 2021 to September 2023 there has been a total of 69,333 unique individual users that have been served by the Maine Drug Data Hub. These individuals have visited 1,637,638 pages while on the Hub and have downloaded over 36,000 documents and reports.

The overdose mapping tool, ODMAP, allows for real time analysis and spike alerts of community and county nonfatal and fatal drug overdose.

The Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, or ODMAP, seeks to provide near real-time data regarding suspected overdoses responded to by public safety officials. The goal is to utilize these law enforcement overdose responses to organize public health efforts to mobilize an immediate response to a sudden increase, or spike in overdose events.

In Maine, over 85 state, county, and municipal law enforcement agencies collect overdose data and report it to ODMAP. The map below shows enrolled counties in yellow, enrolled municipal law enforcement agencies as dark blue circles, and enrolled statewide agencies in light blue. Currently unenrolled counties are colored black and unenrolled municipalities are gray circles. The State promotes the utilization of ODMAP by law enforcement agencies as well as the sharing of overdose spike data with public health officials, clinicians, and community partners. (Strategy 5.h; 5i)

Essential to the success of ODMAP is the timeliness of data reporting. To make overdose data actionable, clinicians, community partners and public health officials need identify increases in nonfatal and fatal overdoses quickly. The following graph shows the percentage of ODMAP entries that were made within 24 hours each month. (Strategy 5.h; 5.i)

If you would like to sign up for the SPIKE Auto Text Program to receive overdose spike alerts directly to your cellphone please text the word SPIKE to (855)-963-5669. If you are a community partner who would like to sign up for ODMAP access talk to your local police department.