Maine Suffering from Lack of Drug Addiction Treatment
Maine is facing a serious problem with heroin and prescription drug addiction. According to Mary Mayhew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, “99 percent of adults age 26 or older [in 2013] who needed addiction treatment for illicit drug use were able to receive it.” However, Dr. Gust Stringos, D.O., who works at Somerset Primary Care, has practiced medicine in Somerset County for the last 25 years, and is now working directly with many addicts, says he is astounded by that statement.
In Maine, where more people are dying every year from overdoses than from motor vehicle accidents and gunshots, 50 percent of Dr. Stringos’ patients – who until just 10 years ago came to him for run-of-the-mill illnesses and conditions – are now seeing him for help with drug addiction.
“My office phone rings daily with people looking for help. Most we have to turn away,” said Dr. Stringos in a recent article in the Morning Sentinel. “The other practices that do this work are likewise full. There are very few treatment centers in Maine, and those are generally full with long waiting lists.”
Despite the lack of treatment facilities, and the huge jump in the addict population and those who are dying from drugs, the “flagship treatment program” at Mercy Hospital in Portland and another program in Sanford both closed for lack of funding and “Patients who are lucky enough to get into treatment in Maine usually struggle with the costs,” said Dr. Stringos. “Many young adults have no insurance and do not qualify for MaineCare because of the governor’s refusal to expand the program.”
It’s a mystery to me why Mary Mayhew would say 99% of everyone who needs treatment is getting it. Where is she getting her information? Obviously not from the people who are actually hands on addressing the problem.
Dr. Stringos attributed the increase in addicts to doctors over-prescribing highly addictive painkillers. Not with an intention to harm but because of ignorance, convenience, and “heavy marketing from pharmaceutical companies.”
The major pharmaceutical company involved in starting this epidemic is Purdue Pharma, which was fined $634 million in 2007 for their fraudulent marketing of OxyContin, telling doctors and consumers alike that it was less addictive than drugs already on the market. During their trial it was revealed that exactly the opposite was true.
That amount of money was pocket change to Purdue – it’s just cost of doing business, especially when your business involves criminality and the lawsuits that go along with it.
They paid the money, went home and had a nice dinner with their families. While the hundreds of thousands of people that had turned into addicts with their product struggled to stay alive.
And the people of the U.S. AND other countries, are still doing the same.
The problem is even worse now than it was then – despite the $ billions various government agencies have put into trying to help handle addiction. We, the taxpayer, have spent far more trying to handle the problem that Purdue created than Purdue was fined.
What’s wrong with this picture?
If you live in Maine and are looking for help with drug addiction, give us a call. We can help you find a facility so you can off drugs and get your life back.