Using all avenues to support Maine people affected by the opioid epidemic
Last July 2021, Governor Janet T. Mills announced at the Second Annual Governor’s Opioid Response Summit that the state would develop an overdose prevention program that would have a presence in all of Maine’s 16 counties.
Launched formally in January, the OPTIONS initiative (Overdose Prevention Through Intensive Outreach, Naloxone and Safety) is now connecting with Maine people in 14 counties with recruitment of a behavioral health specialist still ongoing in Knox and Piscataquis counties.
The initiative has both a media component and an on-the-ground component with behavioral health liaisons co-responding to overdose calls and reaching out to individuals who are using drugs, and a media component encouraging Mainers to call 911 when an overdose occurs.
The media component also provides educational messages on the state’s Good Samaritan Law and positive examples of successful recovery (many Journey readers have seen the media ads featuring Shelly and David Yankowsky, Chantel and Dustin).
Each month, the liaisons meet together to share best practices and to hear from technical advisors who have experience in the field. More information on the OPTIONS program is available at the new website at www.knowyouroptions.me. The website lists harm reduction and treatment resources available by county.
New data available from the Office of the Attorney General and the University of Maine are offering greater insight into the substance use disorder epidemic, and how the state should respond.
As we continue to fight the epidemic, which is more lethal than ever due to more powerful drugs like fentanyl and the number of persons using alone during the COVID-19 pandemic, we will use all avenues available to support Maine people, families and communities being affected by it.