Advocates urge lawmakers to pass bill to authorize harm reduction health centers in Maine

Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 5:17 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Recovery and harm reduction advocates are urging state lawmakers to pass a bill they say will prevent opioid overdose deaths by authorizing harm reduction health centers in the state.

More than 700 people died in Maine from drug overdoses in 2022.

That’s why advocates say the health centers are so important.

They say it will not only save lives by providing immediate access to emergency medical care, but it will help with recovery, peer support, and more.

Advocates say they recognize it’s not a one size fit all solution but many can benefit from health centers, and it would not cost taxpayers any money as the centers would be funded by private donations and grants.

“Harm Reduction Health Center is a space where people who use drugs can go to to receive access to treatment and recovery support services as well as use substances on site. So, instead of sending them away to use alone in downtown, bathrooms or parks across the state of Maine, we say you can stay here, and there’s going to be doctors and nurses and harm reduction specialists and people who care about you who can reverse the overdose while you’re there,” said Courtney Gary-Allen with Maine Recovery Advocacy Project.

The bill is heading to the House after receiving a majority vote in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

If passed, Maine would join New York, Rhode island, and Minnesota as states that have authorized the creation of harm reduction health centers.

Representative Grayson Lookner of Portland is sponsoring the bill.