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Maine’s Drug Law Changes Won’t Help Addicts Quickly Enough

injecting heroinMaine has had serious drug addiction problems. They’re currently calling heroin addiction an epidemic, and overdoses are skyrocketing. Political leaders – who’ve taken a long time to pass any legislation on this, largely due to the left and right not playing nice – have finally proposed a bill that requires several changes and additions to the State’s drug treatment and prevention resources. But although locals are happy that something is being done, they’re disappointed that many of the changes are long-term. Addicts need help right now.

What can Mainer’s look forward to in the future?

  • A new 10-bed detox center in the Bangor area. The full data on how the detoxes will be done is not published, but they do say they’ll be including rapid detox. Rapid detox is very controversial – it’s dangerous, and not necessarily successful. Plus, the location for the facility hasn’t even been chosen, and it will require a build out after that. It’s going to take a while.
  • There will be increased prevention and education efforts.
  • And ten new DEA agents. But it apparently takes months to hire even one, so it looks like ten could take a year or two.

As for the present, the improvements are nil. However, there are some options available. For example:

  • An addict who’s going through withdrawal can currently go to the ER and get one dose of buprenorphine, which stops withdrawal symptoms, and a prescription for more. They can also come back the next day to speak to someone about getting counseling. How many are going to come back the next day is anybody’s guess. But getting buprenorphine without going to the ER is another story – doctors have to be specially licensed to prescribe buprenorphine. As of about a year ago, only 336 doctors had been so licensed in the State. And each of them are only able to prescribe to thirty patients in the first year, and 100 in subsequent years if they have yet another special license.
  • The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act (TREAT Act) may also pass – which increases the number of buprenorphine prescriptions doctors can give out in the first to 100 with an unlimited number thereafter. It also enables nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe them as long as it’s under the supervision of M.D.s
  • The other barrier to treatment is Medicaid cut backs on methadone treatment. Methadone treatment costs the clinics about $143 a week, but Medicaid only reimburses $60. It’s hard for the clinics to survive on that amount of money, so many may have to close their doors. The new legislation doesn’t even mention changing that.

Where Can An Addict Turn for Help Right Now?

The best bet is a long-term drug addiction treatment center. They’re often covered by insurance and, as importantly, they work better than any other type of treatment.

Getting someone treated with drugs doesn’t actually make the person drug free. Being drug free – without dependence on ANY drug – is really the only way for the person to fully get their life back. Once they’ve addressed all the causes for their addiction, along with the urge to take drugs, they’ve got a fighting chance.

It’s unfortunate that the legislators don’t just do something to push the only thing that really works.

If you have a drug problem, or the problem is with someone you love, get them to a long-term residential drug rehab right away. Don’t wait for the government to come up with solutions. As long as their solution is more drugs, it’s obvious they don’t even really understand the problem.

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