As a social worker who works with substance-exposed infants and their families, I appreciated the recent Maine Voices column by Zoe Odlin-Platz and George A. Hill, highlighting L.D. 1063, An Act to Reduce the Number of Substance Exposed Infants. The authors make a point of looking beyond the title of the bill and addressing the issue of women’s access to care.

All too often, when we look at the opioid epidemic and its solutions, society thinks that all treatment and prevention falls within the medical model without examining additional causes, including poverty, domestic violence, low educational achievement, history of incarceration, homelessness and residing with substance users, among other socioeconomic disadvantages.

While addressing family environment and women’s issues to reduce the number of opioid-exposed infants is a great start, it’s important to recognize that the opioid use epidemic didn’t just start in the home. It has deep roots in a series of broken systems. To make a long-lasting impact, we must tackle the underlying causes of opioid use and abuse concurrently.

The opioid epidemic does not discriminate between liberals and conservatives. I urge readers to contact their local, state and federal legislators to ask for adequate funding to combat the crisis on our doorsteps.

Lisa Dezso

master of social work candidate, University of Maine School of Social Work

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