Mills Administration on 2020 First Quarter Drug Overdose Report

July 17, 2020

Governor Janet Mills, Director of Opioid Response Gordon Smith, and Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services Jeanne Lambrew issued the following statements in response to the 2020 first quarter drug overdose death report released today by the Maine Attorney General’s Office:

“Every number in this report is the life of a loved one lost. We grieve with the families, employers and communities diminished by this devastating public health crisis, a public health crisis now made worse by a pandemic that is limiting access to life-saving services and increasing isolation for people in recovery,” said Governor Mills. “I want all Maine people struggling with substance use disorder to know that even during the pandemic, help is still available. You are not alone. There is no quick or easy cure, but we will continue to put the full force of this Administration behind your recovery. Together, we can defeat the opioid epidemic and make our state whole once again.”

“Since our opioid response effort was launched last year, we have successfully reversed hundreds of overdoses which would have otherwise been fatal, improved access to substance use disorder treatment, expanded prevention and education efforts, and supported strong community responses to the opioid epidemic. These alarming increases in overdose deaths, which mirror a nationwide trend, are evidence that we must continue to do more,” said Director of Opiod Response Gordon Smith. “Next week at the Governor’s Opioid Response Summit, we will examine the State’s efforts to confront the opioid epidemic, discuss steps to increase and improve access to remote recovery services during the pandemic, and recommit to serving all those who have been affected by substance use disorder in the state of Maine.”

“Each of these deaths represents a Maine person lost, families and loved ones stricken, and communities forever altered,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “This tragic increase points to an acceleration of disturbing trends that Maine remains committed to overcoming. We continue to adjust our response to support prevention and treatment and recovery services that help Maine people to live with dignity, hope, and meaning. While this pandemic presents new challenges, help is always available.”

Governor Mills’ second annual Opioid Response Summit is scheduled to be held virtually next Thursday, July 23, 2020. A press advisory with more details regarding the Summit will be forthcoming.

For information about substance use disorder support and resources, call 211, text your zip code to 898-211, email info@211Maine.org, visit the Maine 211 website, or visit the DHHS Office of Behavioral Health’s resource page.