As a physician, I’ve seen how opiates enslave those who try them even once. I’ve also met people in recovery. Many were fragile and grateful for the second chance.

Addiction is a complicated problem that requires our best strategies from mental health, law enforcement, medicine and community support. We need both prevention and treatment.

There are several bills in the Legislature that might help, but local communities can be more nimble. I’ve already seen it.

Police are clear that we cannot arrest our way out of this crisis. If there is a demand, there will always be a dealer

Physicians have reined in narcotics prescriptions. But many who are still dependent have turned to cheap but potent heroin/fentanyl, which has increased overdoses.

Some actions we can take right now:

 Support options like Scarborough’s Operation Hope, where anyone can walk in to their police station and ask for help to start recovery. Resources are developing, but the Scarborough Police Department has bravely stepped forward. They have helped over 54 people in two months.

We need to expand Medicaid or we cannot develop recovery programs.

Prescribers need to better use the Prescription Monitoring Program.

The governor should help create a comprehensive plan that leaves nothing out.

We need more providers to prescribe Suboxone, more peer support centers and more supportive residential housing. This will pay for itself through reduced crime and fewer hospital visits.

We need to cut supply. The Legislature this year funded six drug enforcement agents and two drug prosecutors. The governor should hire them. There are also funds for two judges, two clerks and a new drug court. Use them.

There is a long way to go, but public health and safety demand we keep working.

Patricia Hymanson, M.D., FAAN

Democratic state representative