Saving Lives and Preventing Substance Use Disorder:
Governor Mills is committed to ensuring that every person in Maine has the opportunity to live a happy and healthy life and to contribute to the success of our state. With drug overdoses sharply increasing during the pandemic and the increased prevalence of the lethal opioid fentanyl, the Mills Administration is working hard to prevent drug use, support recovery, and save lives. Since taking office, Governor Mills has:
- Appointed A Director of Opioid Response: Governor Mills appointed Gordon Smith the first Director of Opioid Response in Maine, charging him with marshalling the collective power of state government to combat the opioid epidemic.
- Convened A Prevention and Recovery Cabinet: Governor Mills convened a Prevention and Recovery Cabinet formed of the commissioners of all state agencies plus the Attorney General, the Chief Justice, and two members of the public who have faced addiction challenges themselves.
- Invested in Prevention, Treatment and Recovery: Governor Mills invested $110 million as part of the biennial budget she signed to support prevention, early intervention, harm reduction, all levels of treatment, crisis care, and recovery assistance.
- Increased Substance Use Disorder Program Reimbursement Rates: Governor Mills dedicated $2.1 million in MaineCare funds through the biennial budget to increase reimbursement rates for substance use disorder service providers to support access to effective treatment.
- Supported Community Organizations: Governor Mills awarded a $300,000 grant to Healthy Acadia that will allow the MaineRecoveryCorps program to continue supporting Maine people with substance use disorder in 20 locations across eight counties, including five county jails and several health care facilities. The program currently supports 111 Maine people in recovery.
- Started A Program to Connect People with Substance Use Disorder to Jobs: Governor Mills created the Connecting with Opportunities Initiative, a program for Maine people affected by the opioid epidemic to receive education, skills training, and job search assistance through the end of 2022. The Initiative also prepares Maine people for careers in fields that directly treat substance use disorders, such as counseling, addiction treatment, and mental health care.
- Increased Recovery Resources: Governor Mills has increased the number of Recovery Community Centers; increased the number of Recovery Residences; and recruited and trained hundreds of new recovery coaches to ensure every person struggling with substance use disorder can access treatment.
- Saved Lives: Since September 2019, Governor Mills has distributed 132,422 doses of naloxone through public health and harm reduction organizations to reverse opioid overdoses.
- Expanded Medication Assisted Treatment Options: Governor Mills has increased the availability of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to over 1,500 incarcerated individuals in Maine and programs connecting them to community providers upon release.
- Started A New Program for Moms with Substance Use Disorder: Governor Mills launched the Maine Maternal Opioid Misuse (MOM) program to improve care for pregnant Mainers and new parents struggling with opioid use disorder.
- Helped Communities Connect People to Substance Use Disorder Services: Governor Mills created the OPTIONS program which placed liaisons in counties around the state to connect people who have overdosed to recovery services and treatment, promote drug prevention and harm reduction strategies, and distribute naloxone, the lifesaving overdose medication.
- Created A Free Community Texting Service: Governor Mills launched a free texting service that alerts Maine residents to any sudden increase in overdoses in their counties to help connect people with OPTIONS resources.
- Created An Overdose Review Panel: Governor Mills signed emergency legislation to establish an Accidental Drug Overdose Death Review Panel within the Office of the Attorney General. The panel will review a subset of overdose deaths to learn from the circumstances surrounding them and adjust policies when needed, with the goal of reducing overdose deaths.
- Started A New Website to Provide Drug Use Data: In partnership with the University of Maine and the Attorney General, Governor Mills started an online portal —mainedrugdata.org — for detailed and timely local data about the harms of drug use in Maine.
- Adjusted State Policies to Address the Pandemic: Governor Mills has updated the state’s Opioid Response Strategic Plan with new recommendations (PDF) to address challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Expanded Medicaid (MaineCare) coverage: MaineCare covered 13,364 opioid use disorder and 19,304 substance use disorder treatments from January 3, 2019 through November 2021. Approximately 90,000 Maine residents are currently covered through the expansion.