Attorney General Mills announces new public education campaign: A Dose of Reality

July 18, 2016

AUGUSTA ? Attorney General Janet T. Mills today announced a new public education campaign aimed at stemming the abuse of painkillers in Maine. The new website and three television spots are designed to give Maine a ?Dose of Reality? about painkillers.

?Prescription drugs have killed more than a thousand Mainers in the last ten years and addiction has devastated many, many more lives,? said Attorney General Mills. ?Nearly four out of five people arrested for heroin possession say they began by abusing painkillers. Too many Mainers are misusing, abusing and dying from painkillers, heroin, and other narcotics.?

In the last two years there has been a spike in deaths caused by heroin and the powerful synthetic painkiller fentanyl. However, the number of deaths caused by painkillers and other prescription drugs has also remained high for the last decade. The Governor proposed and the Legislature enacted sweeping changes to Maine law this year that will significantly reform prescribing practices in Maine, and insurers, including MaineCare, are taking steps to reduce the supply of painkillers in the state.

?Too many painkillers are being diverted from legitimate medical uses,? said Attorney General Mills. ?An analysis by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner found that only seven percent of those who died of a prescription medication overdose in 2015 had a doctor?s prescription at the time of their death. Our society is awash in these substances. America has five percent of the world?s population, yet we consume eighty percent of the prescription opioids. People, especially youth, need to know that painkillers should not be passed around at parties or in locker rooms. If you have these pills in your home, keep track of them and dispose of them properly if they are unused.?

The three TV spots depict scenes that should give anyone pause: A mother finding an unresponsive son, a girl slumped over at a party, a teammate passing a painkiller to an injured friend. The website: has information about the dangers of painkillers, the safe acquisition, safe handling and the proper disposal of these substances. The TV spots will run on Maine television stations over the coming months. The spots can be viewed on the website, as well.

?We all have an important role to play in stemming the tide of addiction and opiate overdose deaths in our state,? said Attorney General Mills. ?I hope these ads will spark conversations in homes and schools across Maine and educate everyone about the importance of proper handling of painkillers before tragedy strikes one more Maine family.?

Attorney General Mills expressed her gratitude to the Wisconsin Department of Justice and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel for making this material available to Maine.