A promising approach to getting drug addicts into treatment has come to Maine. Police departments in Oxford County, Augusta and Scarborough are exploring or starting programs modeled on a Gloucester, Massachusetts, effort that offers amnesty to those seeking help in overcoming their opiate addiction.

But while law enforcement officials in Maine are making a good-faith effort to stem the tide of drug abuse, they are not getting the backup they need at the state level. Maine has few addiction treatment resources, especially for people who have neither money nor insurance – and MaineCare cuts have only made this shortage worse.

Policymakers elsewhere have taken steps to remove barriers to substance-abuse programs. If Maine truly wants to make a difference in the lives of people who want to get clean, it should follow their example.

The idea behind Gloucester’s pioneering Angel initiative is simple: Addicts who turn in their drugs and paraphernalia and seek help at the police station are referred to treatment instead of being prosecuted. Since the program was launched in June, nearly 200 addicts have received assistance in entering recovery programs, Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello told a Boston TV station last month.

The Angel program is an innovative way to address a growing scourge in Maine. Fatal drug overdoses here have reached all-time highs, and heroin deaths alone soared from seven in 2011 to 57 last year.

But a critical factor in the program’s success is support from the government. Massachusetts’ Medicaid program offers far more comprehensive addiction treatment coverage than MaineCare, as Maine’s version of Medicaid is known. A request by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker to add $27.8 million for new treatment services is now moving through the Legislature there.

And a groundbreaking law took effect last week in Massachusetts that may dramatically increase access to recovery programs. The measure requires all health insurers to cover at least 14 consecutive days of “medically necessary” inpatient substance abuse treatment and counseling.

Patients no longer have to obtain prior approval before getting help – their doctor, not their insurer, determines whether treatment is needed. And as more people receive coverage for substance-abuse services, it’s expected that facilities will open up more treatment beds to accommodate them.

In Maine, on the other hand, thousands of low-income residents have lost publicly funded insurance coverage as the state has tightened eligibility requirements. Two treatment centers have closed since spring: Fewer patients had insurance, and the facilities couldn’t afford to provide services without being reimbursed.

What’s more, our governor has said early and often that the real problem is a lack of drug enforcement.

As police in Maine try to carry out a treatment-oriented approach, we hope their experiences lead him to reconsider his views and pledge resources to their sorely needed work.