Focus Area 2023-2025: Public Safety

  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Program prescribing and patient trends.
  • Drug take-back days prescription drug collection.
  • Drug arrests and seizures by MDEA.
  • Drug arrests and seizures by State, county, and municipal law enforcement.
  • Admissions to the Maine Department of Corrections for drug crime sentences.

The State of Maine is working to improve the safety of opioid prescribing and is monitoring the prescribing of controlled substances to identify trends and to engage with outliers.

Through the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and other initiatives the State of Maine is improving the safety of opioid prescribing as well as the prescribing of other controlled substances. Maine is promoting evidence-based guidelines for controlled substance prescribing and assisting providers with responsibly tapering patients from controlled substances. Metrics regarding prescribing trends and the ability to identify outliers are tracked through the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. (Strategy 13a; 13b; 13c)

Further, to help reduce opioid misuse and opioid overdose in the state of Maine, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program receives data regarding controlled substances from prescription dispensers that can be accessed by prescribing providers. Since 2015, the number of morphine milligram equivalents prescribed in Maine has decreased as has the number of patients prescribed opioids and the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed to patients.

This metric tracks the morphine milligram equivalents prescribed by providers, the number of patients receiving opioid prescriptions from their providers, and the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed in the State of Maine. The data is provided by the Office of Behavioral Health. The data is reported quarterly.

Source: Maine Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Annual Report 2021.

Electronic prescribing of opioids enhances the ability for the State to prevent misuse.

As of August 1, 2017, providers in Maine are required to prescribe any opiate medication by electronic means. This measure enhances the ability of the State to electronically track prescriptions of opiate medications and avert potential misuse and diversion. The data is provided by the Office of Behavioral Health. The data is reported annually.

Source: Maine Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Annual Report 2021.

Benzodiazepines and stimulants are increasing as cointoxicants involved in overdose deaths alone or in combination with other drugs and alcohol.

Long-term use of benzodiazepines can cause physical dependence, addiction, and overdose death. Benzodiazepines used alongside pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical opioids increases the risk of respiratory suppression as well as nonfatal and fatal overdoses.

Stimulants elevate heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing and can cause paranoia and anxiety. Excessive use and non-medical use of stimulants can be dangerous and deadly damaging the respiratory, cardiovascular, and central nervous systems causing irregular heartbeat, heart failure and seizures among other side effects.

This metric tracks the number of patients receiving benzodiazepines and stimulants from their providers and the number of benzodiazepine and stimulant prescriptions dispensed in the State of Maine. The data is provided by the Office of Behavioral Health. The data is reported quarterly.

Source: Maine Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Source: Maine Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Annual Report 2021.

Maine’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program provides alerts to clinicians to reduce the risk of overdose

The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is one tool that improves the safety of prescribing controlled substance through the generation of automated alerts to clinicians under circumstances where attention may be warranted to increased risk for problematic substance misuse or overdose. Clinicians are alerted when prescriptions of opioid medications exceeds 100 morphine milligram equivalents per day, when a patient has with five of more controlled substance prescriptions for different providers or when controlled substance prescriptions for a patient are dispensed at five or more pharmacies within 30 days, and when a patient has concurrent prescriptions for opiate and a benzodiazepine medications. (Strategy 13.a; 13.b; 13.c)

Source: Maine Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Annual Report 2021.

The State of Maine supports DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Days which address the misuse of controlled prescription drugs.

The Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study highlighted that the majority of misused prescription drugs were obtained from family members or friends, often from a home medicine cabinet.

Mainers play an important role in preventing the diversion of prescription drug for misuse. From its inception in 2010, Maine ranked #1 in the United States per capita for the total pounds of medication collected during the Maine Prescription Drug Take Back Day. In total, Mainers have turned in 541,361 pounds of prescription drugs that had the potential to be misused by family and friends.

This metric tracks the pounds of prescription drugs taken into custody by the DEA during Take Back Day. The data is compiled by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency. It is reported semi-annually. For national data regarding the DEA’s Prescription Drug Take Back Days visit DEA Diversion’s website. (Strategy 13.d)

Drugs Collected during the Prescription Drug Take Back Day in New England, April 2023. Hover over each state to view pounds of prescriptions collected.

Source: United States Drug Enforcement Administration.

Source: United States Drug Enforcement Administration.

Law enforcement prevents problematic drug use and overdose by making illegal drugs less available and by aggressively prosecuting drug traffickers.

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA)

The MDEA addresses the drug epidemic in the state by making deadly illegal drugs, such as fentanyl and fentanyl analogs less available. They also focus their investigative efforts on removing drug traffickers and dealers from our communities (Strategy 13.a; 13.b).

This metric tracks the grams of drugs seized by MDEA, the pharmaceutical dosage units of drugs seized by MDEA, and the drug related arrests made by MDEA by substance. This metric is an indicator of the illicit substances found in Maine by law enforcement officers as well as the quantity of illicit substances and traffickers of illicit substances removed from Maine’s drug trade by MDEA. MDEA data is reported annually. For full reports visit the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency Website’s News and Events Page.

Source: Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Source: Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Source: Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Source: Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

The Maine State Bureau of Identification (SBI)

SBI collects and maintains criminal history information throughout the State including drug related arrests. These metrics tracks the number of drug arrests by substance and the number of opioid arrests by county. It does not include federal charges or dispositions. It includes data for all participating local, county, and statewide law enforcement agencies in Maine. These data do not include federal law enforcement arrests or seizures that take place in Maine. This data is reported monthly (Strategy 13.a; 13.b; 13.c).

Opioid Arrests in Maine, 2022

Source: New England High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (NE-HIDTA).

The Maine Department of Corrections (MDOC)

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 3% of men and 4% of women incarcerated during 2022 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 13.b)

Source: Maine Department of Corrections. Annual Report on Substance Use, 2023.