FALMOUTH — The Town Council has approved an opioid action plan that focuses on education, prevention and reducing the stigma of addiction.

The plan came out of a partnership with the Greater Portland Council of Governments, which is helping municipalities identify the best ways to address the opioid epidemic locally and create a better understanding of people with substance use disorder.

Falmouth will look into creating a needle exchange or implementing a small community sharps disposal program. Russ Dillingham / Sun Journal

Falmouth’s action plan is based on input the town received in a public forum in March, and is centered around the root causes of opioid misuse. The town hopes to align itself with civic organizations, schools, churches and business leaders to implement the plan, according to information provided to the council at its July 8 meeting.

The plan summarizes several problem areas that could be positively impacted by community-based intervention, while the overall goal is to expand the general understanding of the root causes of opioid addiction and then engage the community in “comprehensive, evidence-based solutions,” according to materials provided to councilors.

A copy of the plan can be found on the town website at falmouthme.org.

One key step is making “recovery visible,” so those struggling with substance use disorder understand there are options and hope. The hope is that this strategy will also enhance prevention.

This step includes promoting recovery ally training, mapping employers that are recovery friendly, promoting the employment of people in recovery, and encouraging community groups and churches to host support groups for family members of people in recovery.

Harm reduction is also a crucial part of the plan. The town will encourage training community members in how to administer Narcan, a life-saving drug used to counteract an overdose. In addition, Town Manager Nathan Poore said Falmouth would look into creating a needle exchange or implementing a small community sharps disposal program, which can keep those with substance use disorder from getting an easily communicable disease like hepatitis C.

Keeping opioids out of circulation also needs strict attention, according to the action plan. This could include holding drug safety workshops, especially with seniors, and better promotion of safe, anonymous drug drop-off options, while also looking into new ways to dispose of unused opioids.

The action plan also calls for a variety of community forums on topics ranging from prevention to treatment and recovery. Such forums could include small, intimate table talks, screening documentaries, and following up with discussions or presentations by panels of experts.

The action plan also says that parents, schools, recreational staff and coaches are integral to teaching kids about substance use disorder and being available if a youth needs to talk. Other educational outreach could include having prevention materials available in high-traffic, public places.

Another area the action plan addresses is how to ensure that recovery homes, or so-called sober houses, are better regulated, including encouraging such places to pursue state certification and helping the public understand the need for safe places where someone in recovery can stay.

The plan will be implemented in phases as recommendations are received for how to implement each step.

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