Re: “Lack of data slows work on Maine’s heroin addiction strategy, says chief of DHHS” (Jan. 20):

Over the last several weeks, there has been some conflicting information about substance abuse treatment and its success and apparent overfunding, as well as finger pointing at providers by our erstwhile health and human services commissioner, Mary Mayhew.

I think anyone familiar with the disease of substance abuse would disagree with Mayhew’s statement that “we must be meeting the need” for treatment facilities because $500,000 of budgeted funds remain unspent.

Of course, she would never mention the number of programs that have closed primarily because of dramatic changes in MaineCare. So there is less professional care available, which greatly increases the need – it doesn’t decrease it.

We now have a crisis with heroin and pain medications, and it is gratifying that numerous police departments in Maine, as well as in other states in New England, have stepped forward, committing to be a referral source for treatment and encouraging active users to seek help.

But where has our commissioner been in this effort? She’s been relatively silent while the state’s governor was bantering about calling out the National Guard to combat increased substance problems.

As usual, there does not seem to be any effort to get private and public efforts together to maximize use of funds, agree on effective treatment methods and produce outcomes that show results through teamwork and not pointing fingers, particularly by state officials

Frank Parker


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