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I. The Task Force Process
The Task Force on Substance Abuse was established in May 1998 as a combined effort of two groups charged with conducting a study of substance abuse issues in Mainethe Joint Select Committee on Substance Abuse of the Legislature and the Substance Abuse Services Commission, an advisory committee to OSA in the Maine Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services.
The legislation creating the Joint Select Committee on Substance Abuse is included as Attachment A. Because substance abuse issues fall under the jurisdiction of several different committees of the Legislature, the 118th Legislature brought together thirteen representatives of these committees to form the Joint Select Committee. The charge to the Committee is to examine issues related to substance abuse and to recommend how future Legislatures can address these issues in a coordinated fashion.
The Substance Abuse Services Commission also planned to study substance abuse issues. Its charge focused on conducting a comprehensive review of demonstrated substance abuse problems in Maine, particularly alcohol abuse, and on making recommendations regarding prevention, education, treatment and research. The Commission consists of 17 members with education, training, experience, knowledge, expertise and interest in substance abuse prevention and treatment.
In the early spring of 1998, the two groups decided to combine their similar endeavors and came together as the Task Force to conduct a comprehensive study of substance abuse problems in Maine and to recommend changes in policy regarding prevention and treatment. A list of Task Force members is included as Attachment B.
The Task Force did not address the use of tobacco in its recommendations. In recent months there have been a number of public policy initiatives relating to tobacco. Not wanting to duplicate this work, the Task Force decided to concentrate its recommendations on issues and solutions relating to alcohol and other drugs.
Meetings and Structure
Working throughout the summer and into the fall of 1998, the full Task Force met five timeson May 6, June 24, September 9, October 14, and November 18. The Task Force carried out its charge through four Subcommittees: Continuum of Care; Children and Youth; Public and Private Partnerships; and Criminal Justice and Public Safety. Each Subcommittee included Task Force members as well as interested members of the community. The Task Force also formed a Coordinating Committee to facilitate the review of work emerging from the Subcommittees and to identify and develop recommendations cutting across the Subcommittees. Each Subcommittee met at least five times between June and October. Each submitted a report including their draft recommendations. A list of Subcommittee and Coordinating Committee members is included as Attachment C. A description of the process followed by each Committee is included as Attachment D.
The Task Force held hearings on the draft recommendations in Augusta, Bangor, and Portland on September 16 and accepted written comments until September 30, 1998. The Task Force finalized the recommendations and report in November 1998. The Task Force received staff assistance from both OSA and the Legislatures Office of Policy and Legal Analysis.
This final report and its recommendations represent a consensus of the Task Force on Substance Abuse. There was unanimous support for almost all of the recommendations. In the few instances when there was disagreement, Task Force members put aside their individual preferences in order to support the overall report and recommendations.
Following the synopsis of recommendations in the Executive Summary, there are three sections. Section I describes the reaction to alcohol and other drug abuse that led to the formation of Task Force, as well as the people and process involved. Section II provides an overview of substance abuse in Maine, examining its effects on Maine people and taking a broad look at the system of services. Section III includes discussion and recommendations organized into eight topics: the substance abuse services system, strategies and services embracing all groups, publicly intoxicated people at risk, prevention, services for juvenile offenders, services for adult offenders, public safety, and private sector responses to substance abuse. The recommendations in Section III are numbered consecutively across all of the topics. Thus, the numbers of the recommendations are the same in both Section III and in the Executive Summary.