Earlier this week, I had the honor of attending and presenting at Maine’s inaugural Opioid Response Summit (“Governor’s opioid summit brims with ideas for solutions to crisis,” July 15).

Since coming into office, Gov. Janet Mills has brought a new level of commitment and compassion to the public health crisis that has been ravaging our state for far too long. From expansion of Medicaid to more access to naloxone, Maine may be on the verge of stemming the tide of deaths from a preventable and treatable disease. May be.

While I am grateful for Gov. Mills’ passion and purpose regarding the opioid epidemic that has ravaged our communities, I learned a long time ago as a clinician, as a counselor, as an activist, as an ally, and as a person in long-term recovery that gratitude is an action word. And there are more actions to take.

I urge our politicians, our policy makers, our police, our people of Maine to take bold action. Let us be bold about real harm reduction services that prevent death and the spread of blood borne diseases like hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.

Let us be bold concerning ideas that have worked in other communities around the world. Let us be bold and create easier access to detox and treatment for anyone that wants help; emergency rooms and jails are not treatment. Let us be bold and expand syringe exchanges to our more rural and hardest hit communities. Let us be bold and create the first overdose prevention site in the United States. Let us be bold and finally talk about amnesty, decriminalization, and legalization.

While prevention, treatment, parity, triage services and community involvement are all needed, our priority must be focused on bold harm reduction strategies to truly stem the tide.

 

Glenn J. Simpson

program coordinator

Dignity for Opiate Users

Portland


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