BREWER — Parents who lost a son in a drug overdose, people in recovery, doctors, law enforcement and others talked about how to address the problem of drug addiction in Maine at a roundtable hosted by U.S. Sen. Angus King, and attended by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree.
“Our focus today is to try and talk about what works,” King said at the beginning of the two-hour gathering at Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems.
Legislators, treatment providers and law enforcement are concerned because 2014 was the worst year in Maine history for drug overdose deaths with 208 — 57 blamed on heroin and 43 listing fentanyl — and in the first six months of this year, 105 Mainers have died in drug poisonings, said
Michael Botticelli, National Drug Control Policy director.
“One of the things we know is that this is not just a law enforcement issue,” Botticelli said. “We can’t arrest our way out of this problem. We need to give people real preventive care.”
The National Drug Control Policy director also is a past drug user who changed his life for the better.
“There is such hope on the other side of this,” Botticelli said. “Part of what we want to do is show people there is hope on the other side.”
Gov. Paul L ePage is holding a drug abuse prevention summit Wednesday in Augusta with state and federal law enforcement and addiction treatment professionals at the table.