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How is the State of Maine confronting the epidemic of substance use disorder?

The State of Maine’s annual Strategic Action Plan is designed to address the epidemic of substance use disorder (SUD) with evidence-based strategies that are targeted and tailored for maximum impact in Maine. Since Executive Order 2, issued two years ago, the Mills administration has taken the following steps:

  • Purchased and distributed 59,782 doses of naloxone through public health and harm reduction organizations (through December 2020), resulting in 1,231 opioid overdose reversals during 2020. 
  • Recruited and trained 534 recovery coaches.
  • Provided Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to over 500 inmates within the Department of Corrections, while they were incarcerated or linked to community providers upon release.
  • Provided MAT to over 250 individuals with a diagnosis of SUD in county jails.
  • Supported 22 emergency departments in standing up low barrier MAT through which over 500 patients received their first dose of medication in the hospital.
  • Increased the prescribing of buprenorphine for MAT by 43% in the past three years.
  • Increased the number of recovery residences from 101 to 120 in two years.
  • Increased Syringe Access Program sites from 7 to 12.
  • Increased Recovery Centers from 9 to 13 locations.
  • Enhanced prevention efforts, including the Department of Education making available to every school in Maine a pre-K through grade 12 social and emotional learning curriculum know as SEL4ME.
  • Served 295 individuals in Maine’s Adult Drug Courts, Co-Occuring Court and Veterans Courts in 2019, and increase of 11.3% over the previous year.

It is estimated that 8.46% of Mainers above the age of twelve suffer from substance-use disorder.

This metric tracks the estimated percentage of Mainers above the age of twelve that suffer from substance-use disorder. It tracks data both at the state and substate level. This metric is an indicator of the need for substance-use disorder treatment. The following table, generated from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), provides estimates of substance-use disorder in the non-institutionalized, civilian population of Maine over the age twelve. The data are annual averages based on 2016, 2017, and 2018 NSDUHs. For full data visit the National Survey on Drug Use and Health website. Substance-use disorder is defined as meeting criteria for illicit drug or alcohol dependence or misuse. It is based on definitions found in the DSM-IV.

State/Substate RegionEstimated %95% Confidence
Interval (lower)
95% Confidence
Interval (upper)
Aroostook (Aroostook)7.53%5.59%10.07%
Central (Kennebec, Somerset)8.22%6.37%10.55%
Cumberland (Cumberland)8.71%6.90%10.94%
Downeast (Washington, Hancock)8.08%5.99%10.81%
Midcoast (Lincoln, Knox, Sagadahoc, Waldo)8.43%6.50%10.87%
Penquis (Penobscot, Piscataquis)8.39%6.51%10.75%
Western (Androscoggin, Franklin, Oxford)9.79%7.77%12.26%
York (York)8.82%6.88%11.23%
Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Clinicians in the State of Maine have increased the prescribing of buprenorphine by 43% during the past three years to provide medication assisted treatment for those suffering from opioid use disorder.

Buprenorphine offers several benefits to those with OUD including diminishing the effects of physical dependency to opioids, increasing safety in cases of overdose, and lowering the potential for misuse.

Source: Maine Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program decreases prescription drug diversion and the illicit supply of pharmaceutical drugs available in the community.

To help reduce opioid-addiction 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. The number of patients prescribed benzodiazepines and the number of benzodiazepines prescriptions has also decreased due to the risk of physical dependence, addiction, and fatal and nonfatal overdose.

Source: Maine Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Source: Maine Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

In the case of an overdose emergency, naloxone administered by bystanders has been saving lives across Maine.

image of intranasal and intramuscular naloxone

Empowering bystanders and active users to keep naloxone on hand in case of an accidental opioid overdose emergency saves lives. Starting in July of 2019, the Maine Naloxone Distribution Initiative launched an overdose education, prevention and naloxone distribution project. Public health and harm reduction partners began distribution state-supplied naloxone rescue kits across Maine to clinical sites, community partners, and end users. To apply to become a clinical distributor of state-supplied naloxone click here.

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