Groups speak out against lack of drug treatment among young Mainers
As Maine’s legislative session draws to a close, groups are urging lawmakers to prioritize making mental health and addiction services available to children and youth without having to leave their town – or city. State.
There is currently only one agency in Maine that operates a residential treatment program for adolescents for substance use.
Greg Bowers, who is the CEO of the program – known as Day One – said it was essential to meet young people where they are. It could be at school, in a primary care office, in a traditional treatment space – or even at home.
“How do we meet the kids early, intervene early,” Bowers asked, “so that we don’t end up in situations where families or young people aren’t seen early enough and end up in the court system or in hospitals? ? “
A bill in the Maine Legislature would force the Department of Health and Human Services to work to develop more services for young people with drug treatment needs, including “drug rehab” beds in hospitals. intensive hospitals and outpatient services.
Bowers said Day One has worked with the courts and the juvenile justice system to provide a path to recovery and treatment instead of enlistment or other punitive measures.
He said there are a number of barriers to treatment for young people. Adolescents can sometimes be more resistant to it; substance use can often be based on trauma; or a parent or other family member could be an active user.
“And there’s a lot of stigma, too, again,” Bowers asked. “Families, communities or schools that may not fully realize, or even don’t care to admit, that there is a significant problem.”
The limited capacity of treatment options sometimes means families have to seek help out of state.
Bowers noted that within the state’s HHS, education, and corrections departments, there are existing resources for mental health and addiction care, but these efforts can be siled or fragmented.
In addition to the new funding, he said he believed that efforts should be made to better coordinate the existing funding.
Photo: In 2019, protesters staged a ‘die-in’ at Portland City Hall calling on lawmakers to tackle the overdose crisis. | tag