Skip Maine state header navigation
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 Mainea side of struggle and despair, of hope and recoverythe 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 Maines 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: Maines Addiction to Alcohol.
In April 1998, the Commission and the Select Committee decided to join forces to take a comprehensive look at Maines 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