Tuesday, March 7, 2017

DHHS Hosts Sold Out Conference: Confronting Maine's Opioid Crisis

Augusta, Maine - The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) brought national and local leaders together to discuss the best ways to combat Maine's opioid crisis. This conference was organized between DHHS and the National Safety Council (NSC) who provided several keynote speakers. Recently, the NSC recognized Maine as a leader in our efforts to address the opioid epidemic.

"In order to successfully address Maine's opioid epidemic we must work together. This epidemic is destroying the very fabric of our families and communities," said Commissioner Mary Mayhew. "In my role as Commissioner, I witness the impact of drug abuse across our state and certainly in our child welfare system with so many children coming into protective custody because of parental substance abuse. It is my hope that today's collaboration will build on our success and continue to advance new efforts to support reduced prescribing and expanded access to evidence-based treatment."

Maine leads the nation in the rate of long-acting opioid prescriptions, dispensing over 80 million pills in 2014. In our state, this has led to an average of more than one person a day dying from an overdose, more than 1,000 babies annually being born drug affected and more than 60% percent of children involved in our child welfare program being directly related to parental substance abuse risk factors.

A short time ago, the Surgeon General released a report ( https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/surgeon-generals-report.pdf ) on the impact of alcohol, and drugs on health-this report was the first of its kind. According to the report, in order to change these trends, we must improve the way we treat chronic pain to prevent abuse, addiction and overdoses before they start. As the US CDC has indicated, opioids are not first line or routine therapy for chronic pain. To do this, we need to improve opioid prescribing practices and promote the use of state prescription drug monitoring programs.

In Maine, we have made great strides to do succeed in this area especially with the passage of Public Law 488. This law mandates the necessary communication between patient, prescriber and dispenser to promote the safe and appropriate prescribing of opioids. Additionally, it requires the use of Maine's prescription monitoring program (PMP), limits the duration and quantities of opioid prescriptions, and requires annual education for opioid prescribers and dispensers to advance our healthcare practices.

"This legislation is crucial to ensure responsible prescribing methods of these highly addictive painkillers. This Administration works tirelessly to understand what practices will help support individuals on pathway of recovery and sustained sobriety," said Commissioner Mayhew. "We continue to evaluate and implement evidence-based treatment options such as medication-assisted treatment and, most recently, Opiate Health Homes."

Last year, the National Safety Council applauded Maine's robust and comprehensive efforts to address opioid abuse by bestowing Maine with a "Making Progress" distinction in its Prescription Nation report. Only four other states - Kentucky, New Mexico, Tennessee and Vermont - earned a "Making Progress" rating in the report, which grades states based on six key indicators proven to effectively address opioid abuse.

The full agenda and additional background information can be found online: http://www.cvent.com/events/me-325-500-confronting-maine-s-opioid-crisis/event-summary-abad877edeff4132a24589b82f3b980b.aspx

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