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This report outlines a series of recommendations developed by many participants over the summer and fall of 1998. The context of these recommendations is the story of a hidden side of Maine—a side of struggle and despair, of hope and recovery—the hidden side of Maine.

In the summer of 1997, the Substance Abuse Services Commission began to review its mission and role. These 17 community members are appointed by the Governor to advise the Executive and Legislative Branches on the status of substance abuse in Maine. The Commission decided that it was time to create a comprehensive plan for substance abuse services across the State.

In March 1998, the Legislature created the Joint Select Committee on Substance Abuse. Its mission was to look at Maine’s substance abuse services and recommend needed changes in the system. Also in March 1998, local community study circles were launched to look at substance abuse and develop local action plans. The study circles were an outgrowth of a series of articles in The Portland Newspapers in October 1997 entitled “The Deadliest Drug: Maine’s Addiction to Alcohol.”

In April 1998, the Commission and the Select Committee decided to join forces to take a comprehensive look at Maine’s substance abuse system and to develop a plan to address gaps in the system. The Task Force on Substance Abuse was the result of that decision. The Task Force is a unique joining of a committee of the Legislature and an advisory group to the Executive Branch. This extraordinary collaborative effort, carried out over the summer and fall of 1998, has resulted in this report.

The substance abuse services system in Maine had its official beginnings in 1974 with the creation of the Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention. The system struggled to provide alcohol and drug abuse services through multiple reorganizations, the latest being the merger of the Office of Substance Abuse (OSA) within the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation in 1996.

Throughout more than 20 years of system development, the toll of substance abuse in financial and human terms has been staggering. Today, the economic cost of substance abuse is $1.2+ billion or two-thirds of the entire budget of Maine State Government. This can be considered a hidden tax: it includes medical costs, costs of incarceration and crime, lost productivity, welfare, and social support costs.

Recent studies show the result of investing in prevention and treatment services for substance abuse. For every dollar invested a minimum of four dollars is saved in all of the categories listed above. Such a high return on investment would be a success on Wall street.

Members of the Task Force on Substance Abuse hope Maine will be willing to make this wise investment in Maine's future.

Co-Chairpersons, Task Force on Substance Abuse:

Representative Michael Brennan

Senator Beverly Daggett

Emanuel Pariser

Back to the Table of Contents

Back to the Joint Task Force Home Page

Back to the OSA Home Page

For questions or comments, please send mail to: Web Administrator

Maine Office of Substance Abuse
#159 State House Station
A.M.H.I. Complex, Marquardt Building
Augusta, ME 04333-0159
Main Office: 207-287-2595
Information and Resource Center: 1-800-499-0027 (In-State Only)or 207-287-8900
Drivers Education and Evaluation Program: 207-287-6400
TTY for all programs: 207-287-4475
Fax: 207-287-8910