Maine Gov. Janet Mills will announce at a news conference Thursday her choice for a newly created position – director of opioid response – to tackle the epidemic that continues to ravage Maine.

The Democratic governor will introduce her newest administration member at 11 a.m. in the Cabinet Room of the State House.

Mills had said during her inaugural address this month that she would create the new position, something other states have done, “to marshal the collective power and resources of state government to stem the tide of this epidemic.”

Overdose death statistics for last year have not yet been finalized but there were 418 overdose deaths in Maine in 2017, the most ever and more than twice as many as 2014, when the crisis first started to take hold.

Maine has taken steps to address the problem by increasing access to treatment, making the overdose-reversing drug Narcan more widely available and restricting the prescription of opioid painkillers. But Mills has said much more needs to be done.

One change that will likely help is the long-awaited expansion of Medicaid, which will make treatment more available to low-income Mainers.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

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