We have had plenty of time now to digest the changes in Maine government, which we made in a record midterm election turnout. Expectations are hopeful about the new governor, who desires a change in how we address our substance use disorder problem and, specifically, our overwhelming drug-poisoning deaths (418 in 2017) in Maine.

While we will continue to need a multifaceted approach to this public health crisis, there is a crucial step that will stop the dying now. Across the nation, we are seeing state officials step up to the challenge of proposing overdose prevention sites to immediately stem the tide of death. All other measures to prevent and treat this crisis are of no use if people continue to die.

Providing Medicaid expansion is necessary, but it is not enough. We must take action now to provide safe spaces for people to access clean needles, drug testing for lethal additives and access to the overdose antidote naloxone. These sites, successfully established in other countries, have experienced zero mortalities among them, while people are watched over and provided with education and resources for recovery if requested.

As we all come to accept this disorder as a disease and not a moral choice, we will begin to provide people with dignity and stop the discrimination and criminalization, which only further marginalizes people and causes preventable deaths.

Please take the time to educate yourselves and your political representatives about the science and facts of substance use disorders. Let us stop the dying now and argue what is right and what is wrong later.

Glenn Simpson

Portland


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