We want your ideas for how to address Maine’s opiate epidemic.

The Bangor Daily News is hosting the One Life Project at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 4, at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. There, people will answer questions to come up with specific steps to ease the opiate epidemic.

Sen. Angus King will speak. The Bangor area Community Health Leadership Board will review and potentially pursue some of the ideas that come out of the evening.

We want as much input as possible, so we’re starting to gather ideas now. Below is one of several questions. (Find the rest here.) Send us your answers, big and small.

We expect to run out of room, so please register soon:

Treatment capacity

Few people with substance use disorders get treatment, and, of those who do, many struggle to find the right kind. The sharp increase in the number of people dying from opioids classifies it as an epidemic, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2015, 272 people died in Maine as the result of overdosing — a 31 percent increase from 2014.

Treating a substance use disorder is a complex, long-term effort that requires care tailored to the individual as well as to the substance, duration and severity of use.

Those who actively seek help, and their families, often say they go from doctor to doctor, searching for one who can prescribe Suboxone. They may not be able to find a prescriber who will accept a MaineCare patient, or they may not have health insurance at all.

Patients may be hesitant about taking methadone, since federal law requires them to get their dose daily at a clinic — a struggle for those whose jobs aren’t flexible or who live far away. There is also a significant additional stigma attached to the use of methadone.

Meanwhile, doctors, who must have specific training to prescribe Suboxone, say they can’t afford to take on many of these patients who frequently present unique challenges and may require more time.

Those who meet the criteria to attend a residential facility have often tried many times to maintain their sobriety or have already tried outpatient programming, and have little to no support from their family or community. However, residential facilities have waitlists — sometimes months long — in part because of an old federal law that only allows 16 beds per facility, and because many people seeking help can’t pay.

So, what should we do about all this?

Avatar photo

Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda is the editor of Maine Focus, a team that conducts journalism investigations and projects at the Bangor Daily News. She also writes for the newspaper, often centering her work on domestic and...