Last year, Mainers died from drug overdoses at a rate of nearly one a day. While Maine is finally taking steps to fight the opioid epidemic, too many of our leaders continue to approach drug use as an issue of crime and punishment rather than a matter of public health. Consequently many Mainers struggle with the shame and stigma associated with drug use and continue to struggle with substance use disorder without access to treatment.
It’s time for our elected officials to rethink how to address this crisis. Instead of criminalization, we need to embrace compassion. Instead of relying on outdated policies that lock people away, we need to embrace smart, evidence-based reforms that save lives.