Portland officials, including council and school board members, health care workers, police and school staff are looking for gaps in the safety net that can catch those struggling with addiction and opioid misuse.
Portland is the third municipality in the region to address addiction and opioid misuse by using an approach that arms municipal leaders with the knowledge and support they need to guide effective, community-wide strategies. Falmouth began this process more than a year ago, followed by Gorham.
“Municipalities have an important role to play in addressing addiction and the opioid misuse problem gripping Maine,” said Kristina Egan Executive Director of the Greater Portland Council of Governments, which is leading the regional effort. “To save lives and help families, we need to leverage the networks, the leadership and the compassion of city and town officials.”
With the help of public health consultant Liz Blackwell-Moore, GPCOG is working with individual municipalities in the region to increase understanding of the issue and create a plan for action. Portland officials on Jan. 30 attended their first workshop on the issue.
“These sessions are an important part of breaking down the stigma associated with substance use disorders,” said Gordon Smith, the state’s Director of Opioid Response. “Stigma remains one of the great barriers to individuals seeking treatment.”
The goal is for the Portland municipal leaders, city councilors and school board members to identify additional evidence-based policies and practices that can be implemented to address addiction and the opioid misuse problem.