Governor Mills Announces Opioid Response Summit

May 23, 2019

Day-long summit will bring together national and state leaders to collaborate on the state’s ongoing response to the opioid crisis and help inform future initiatives to combat it

Governor Janet Mills announced today that her Administration will convene an Opioid Response Summit on July 15, 2019 at the Augusta Civic Center. The summit, “Turning the Tide: Maine’s Path Forward in Addressing the Opioid Crisis,” will bring together members of the public, health providers, experts, affected individuals and families, and law enforcement officials from across Maine to foster collaboration on the state’s ongoing response to the opioid crisis. The summit will feature national policy experts Michael Botticelli, President Barack Obama’s Director of National Drug Control Policy, and Sam Quinones, journalist and author of the landmark book, Dreamland, which chronicles the national opioid crisis and is widely credited with awakening public interest in the issue. Both will deliver keynote remarks.

“While we have made strides in expanding access to treatment and recovery, investing in prevention and education, and supporting law enforcement, we have much more to do to stem the tide of this deadly epidemic,” said Governor Mills. “This summit will bring together national and state leaders to give us feedback on our actions and provide new ideas to inform our work on this critical issue.”

“I am honored Michael Botticelli and Sam Quinones have agreed to keynote this summit and share their experience, knowledge and recommendations with our public health officials, legislators, state and local government officials, and the public as Maine continues to tackle the opioid epidemic,” said Gordon Smith, Director of Opioid Response. “I look forward to convening this summit and advancing our work to build a stronger, healthier Maine.”

“Tackling the opioid crisis is part of our broader effort to address substance use disorders, mental health challenges, and prevention – giving Mainers the tools to get and stay healthy,” said Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “We value this opportunity to achieve consensus on how to address opioid use disorder, which touches every facet of Maine’s population, from workforce issues and health care costs, infants and families, to the state’s oldest residents.”

In addition to keynote presentations from Botticelli and Quinones, Governor Mills and Commissioner Lambrew will deliver remarks. The day-long summit will feature additional presentations on actions taken by neighboring states and new threats such as the emergence of deadly synthetic drugs. There will be breakout sessions moderated by experts on issues ranging from recovery support strategies to community coalitions. Registration will be open to the public in the coming weeks, at a cost of $40.00 per attendee, to cover the cost of lunch.

According to the Attorney General’s Office’s 2018 Drug Death Report, drug overdose deaths decreased in 2018, but Maine's opioid crisis continues to be a public health epidemic requiring a comprehensive response from jurisdictions inside and outside of state and local government. While the total number of 354 drug fatalities during 2018 was lower than the 417 deaths reported in 2017, 80 percent were caused by opioids, often in combination with other drugs or alcohol. At least 89 percent of those deaths were attributed to accidental overdoses.