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For Immediate Release

Date: 03/09/11

Rep. Deb Sanderson Appointed to Substance Abuse Services Commission

AUGUSTA - State Rep. Deb Sanderson has been named to the Substance Abuse Services Commission, which plays numerous roles in Maine's fight against drug and alcohol abuse.

Rep. Sanderson (R-Chelsea) said she is honored by the appointment and looks forward to getting started. "Drug and alcohol abuse represents a hidden tax on the state," she said. "In 2005, it was estimated that substance abuse costs Maine about $900 million per year. That same year, the Office of Substance Abuse reported that drug- and alcohol-related crime costs the state $214 million annually.

"Obviously, this is a huge problem in terms of costs to the taxpayers, not to mention the lives lost and the trauma of being victimized by drug-related crime in the form of home invasions, burglaries, robberies and domestic violence," she added. "As if the problem wasn't bad enough with illegal drugs, we're now learning that abuse of prescription drugs has become a major issue for law enforcement."

The 21-member commission was established by the Legislature in 1993. Five state legislators serve on the panel, all appointed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. Like two other Republican representatives named to the commission, Rep. Sanderson serves on the Health and Human Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over substance abuse, prescription drugs, tobacco addiction prevention, medical marijuana and rehabilitation services.

Other commission members represent a cross-section of individuals with experience in dealing with substance abuse, including a physician, an attorney, educators from all levels, employers, treatment practitioners, and persons affected by or recovering from alcoholism, chronic intoxication, drug abuse or drug dependency.

The commission acts as a bridge between the Office of Substance Abuse, the public and elected officials regarding the issues of substance abuse prevention, research, identification and treatment. It advises the governor, the Legislature, and the Supreme Judicial Court on drug abuse prevention. It also conducts or commissions studies related to abuse issues and submits an annual report to the Legislature. The report must include developments and needs related to drug abuse prevention and significant policy matters regarding the issue. ###

Jay Finegan
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 287-1445