There is a terrible drug epidemic in Maine. Having worked as a juvenile probation officer/caseworker, drug and alcohol counselor, private investigator and adjunct college professor, I have been painfully aware of this outrageous problem for many years. Yes, more law enforcement officials are definitely needed. However, this cannot occur to the exclusion of a much-needed health insurance program, medical assistance, psychological counseling and substance abuse treatment.

There needs to be a comprehensive approach toward this devastating issue. If the demand for drugs is not reduced, and individuals do not get proper treatment, drug dealers will keep pouring into Maine, addicts will keep seeking drugs, the crime rate will increase, and more overdoses will occur.

Addiction is a disease. Clearly, addicts need help, and jail is not the proper facility to treat this issue. Proper treatment facilities are far more effective in the long run. Jails are overcrowded and they are not equipped to be dealing with mental illness and substance abuse.

In fact, the whole situation develops into a revolving door process. Good money is being thrown to bad and taxpayers may want to think about this. Shouldn’t the funds be dispersed to the appropriate facilities? Our hospitals could be put to good use with respect to housing and treating these people. Also, it would provide opportunities for employment/healthcare insurance.

Gov. Paul LePage may be correct on some level. However, bullying and scapegoating is absolutely destructive in terms of communicating and solving problems.

It is time for everyone to work together, not against each other. The state of Maine is one of the top states when it comes to the problem of substance abuse. One addict effects 10-20 people. The longer this is put on the back burner, more significant problems will arise.

Laurie Churchill Coutts, MS


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