Governor’s 2nd annual Opioid Response Summit held virtually

Isolation during the pandemic is considered a contributing factor to increase in overdose-related deaths
Department of Health & Human Services
Department of Health & Human Services(WABI)
Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 5:34 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Governor Janet Mills’ second annual Opioid Response Summit was held virtually Thursday.

It highlighted community and compassion as they relate to Maine’s opioid epidemic.

According to Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah, 127 deaths occurred in the first three months of the year due to drug overdose, which is up 23% from the last quarter of 2019.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has isolated us in ways that introduce new stressors for those with SUD in ways that are truly immeasurable,” Shah said.

Attendees heard from organizations like the McAuly Residence and viewed a short documentary from Recovery in Maine.

Former surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy answered questions related to social connection and it’s importance.

“Regardless of whether loneliness is your primary problem or a consequence of your current anxiety and depression, investing in your social connections, showing up for your friends, allowing them to show up for you, these actually have positive benefits in how we feel regardless of what our primary challenge is,” Murthy said.

Governor Mills highlighted the response efforts over the last few months that rose to the occasion when in-person meetings were no longer an option.

“Outpatient treatment programs including methadone clinics pivoted to providing take-home doses to avoid daily trips to the clinic, the number of take home doses per week doubled to over 18,000 for over 3,300 patients and this change does not appear to have resulted in a single death,” Mills said.

Dr. Shah remained optimistic about the work that people in Maine can do to among a pandemic.

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