A story ran on Feb. 18 entitled, “Police urge Maine lawmakers to help put drug users in treatment, not jail” regarding L.D. 1488, “An Act for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion in Maine,” also referred to as L.E.A.D. Every resident of this state would benefit from addressing our heroin and opiate drug problem. This bill is a good start to that end, aiming to get more people into treatment, as well as to connect them with supportive services, such as housing and employment training.

The Statewide Epidemiological Outcome Workgroup published their findings in the fall of 2015 on the Maine drug problem. Here are a few statistics: The national rate of heroin death overdoses was 2.7 in 2013, Maine’s was 4.3. Central Maine had the highest drug-related death rate at 17.4 per 100,000 residents. People aged 26-37 account for 47 percent of people seeking treatment for opiate addiction. Drug offense arrests for heroin quadrupled between 2010 and 2014. Kennebec County had the highest rate of pharmacy robberies in the state. The state average of drug-affected babies is 6.7 per 10,000 residents, yet nine counties have a higher rate, with Penobscot and Washington counties each reporting over 12.

There is a significant need for new ways for individuals to access the substance abuse treatment and support services they so desperately need. If you agree, contact your state representative or senator to express your support of L.D. 1488.

Tammy Holman

Belgrade