Tuesday, 14 November 2017 11:14

Opioid task force is readying for final recommendation Featured

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AUGUSTA - The state's Opioid Task Force is expected to present its recommendations before the end of the year.

The task force was another in a series of efforts to stem the growth of opiate addiction across the state.


It's been nearly 10 months since this task force was announced.


Senator Andre Cushing, R-Hampden, said "This is not a stand-alone thing. There needs to be integration between what we do with prevention and treatment. There needs to be an important part between what we do with the prevention and the enforcement piece."


In 2016, 378 people died from drug overdoses, mainly heroin or prescription-related drug abuse. Now, task force members are trying to whittle down generic recommendations to include more precise directives in the final report.


Senator Geoffrey Gratwick, D-Bangor, stated "We've got to go and get three, five, six, seven max that we can actually put our fingers on. We can have funding for. They're achievable. And they're going to have the result of getting people off opioids."


The senate chairperson of the committee said now that President Trump has declared the opioid epidemic to be a national emergency more money may be available to enforce laws, treat addicts, and prevent abuse.


"So we have a large job ahead of us. And this is just one more step in the process," added Senator Cushing.


The number of people dying from opiate overdoses last year more than doubled since 2013.


Senator Gratwick said "It's a nasty disease. It's a nasty, nasty, nasty disease. And you need treatment ongoing. You need to be reintegrated into the community."


Now members of the opioid task force can't propose legislation. However, when the task force produces its' report next month it will include recommendations. And they'd like to see those recommendations become law.