According to the office of Maine’s attorney general, 376 people died of drug overdoses in this state in 2018 alone. Those are 376 people Maine failed because this state has no effective drug policies. That number is just the tip of the iceberg, as over 25,000 people living in Maine are estimated to have needed, but not received, treatment for illicit drug use.

Those numbers are what a crisis looks like. I see the crisis every day when I work with survivors of domestic violence and survivors of trafficking as they struggle to find help or a safe place to turn to address their substance use issues. That crisis is why a change is needed. Something different needs to be tried in order to save the lives of Mainers and better our communities.

Overdose prevention sites are different because they work and are cost efficient. OPS would create a safe place to access sterile injecting equipment while under the supervision of medical staff with access to recovery resources. Countries including Canada and Australia have been using OPS to lower overdose deaths by up to 35 percent, while preventing the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. Right now Maine spends a total of $18 million treating just Hepatitis C alone. That money could be spent on more resources.

I urge legislators to support legislation that looks to effective ideas such as overdose prevention sites in order to address Maine’s crisis — a crisis of our conscious, of our wallets and of our lives.

Annette Macaluso, Lewiston