AUGUSTA – The opioid crisis continues throughout the state of Maine. A summit in Augusta brought together people who say they aren’t willing to give up the fight.
The title was Turning the Tide: Maine’s Path Forward in Addressing the Opioid Crisis.
The goal was to bring together members of the public, health providers, substance use disorder experts, law enforcement and those affected.
“We’re here to listen to them,” said Gov. Janet Mills. “Voices of people in recovery, family members who have lost others and that’s so important. Listening to people and reducing the stigma associated with substance abuse disorder.”
According to the Attorney General’s Office’s new report, drug overdose deaths decreased in 2018. This crisis continues to be a public health epidemic and many speakers said the summit was a way to continue the conversation.
“The importance of people coming out are really to say this is not an issue that should be stigmatized or that we should be ashamed of talking about. So we do have to bring these conversations out in the open whether it’s in our own family or whether it’s in the community or whether it’s within a state,” said Michael Botticelli, the former director of national drug control policy.
More than 1,000 people attended the summit on Monday, all to create a community.
“The solutions to address the issue of the opioid crisis come from the community,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association. “They come from the ground up and so today is a perfect opportunity for folks in the community, Mainers, to get together connect with one another and really develop solutions that work for the people of Maine.”
Harris said this epidemic isn’t going to be fixed by one event but this event continued the conversation. Many speakers agreed it takes everyone to create solutions.
“Let’s have some patience, let’s have some forgiveness and let’s understand the importance of community, again that nothing is solved in this alone. Nothing,” said Sam Quinones, journalist and author of Dreamland.