Community Response to the Opioid Crisis | Connected Community Forum

Community Compass’s May Connected Community Forum focused on the opioid crisis: “Community Response to the Opioid Crisis.” A panel of speakers included Charlie Osborn and Roger Bergen (Opiate Free Island), Debra Matteson (Healthy Acadia), Barbara Royal (Open Door Recovery Center), Denise Black (Healthy Acadia), and Gordon Smith (Director of Opioid Response, Governor Mills Office). 

As Ellsworth American reported, “Prevention is the missing piece in the fight against opiate abuse.” Notes Gordon Smith, “We wouldn’t need to put as much into treatment if we could keep our sons and daughters from trying substances when they are 9, 10, 11 years old.” 

Overdose rates in Maine declined slightly last year, however we are still higher than the national and regional average with a life lost nearly every day. “An average of 900 babies in Maine each year are born addicted to opiates.” (Ellsworth American) 

Gordon Smith describes his approach to the opioid crisis: “Opiate addiction should be treated like a public health issue. We need to put significant attention with lowering stigma — not just with the public but in the medical community and law enforcement.”