Michael Botticelli, then-Director of National Drug Control Policy under President Barack Obama, speaks at Husson University in Bangor in 2014. Credit: Brian Feulner | BDN

Gov. Janet Mills has invited former President Barack Obama’s top drug control official and a nationally renowned writer to Maine for a daylong Opioid Response Summit in Augusta.

“While we have made strides in expanding access to treatment and recovery, investing in prevention and education, and supporting law enforcement, we have much more to do to stem the tide of this deadly epidemic,” Mills said in a statement. “This summit will bring together national and state leaders to give us feedback on our actions and provide new ideas to inform our work on this critical issue.”

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The keynote speakers will be Michael Botticelli, Obama’s director of national drug control policy, and Sam Quinones, author of the 2015 book “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.”

A Mills administration announcement says Quinones’ book “is widely credited with awakening public interest in the issue.”

The summit, which the administration has titled “Turning the Tide: Maine’s Path Forward in Addressing the Opioid Crisis,” will take place July 15 at the Augusta Civic Center.

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“We value this opportunity to achieve consensus on how to address opioid use disorder, which touches every facet of Maine’s population, from workforce issues and health care costs, infants and families, to the state’s oldest residents,” said Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, in a statement.

The summit will feature workshops on a range of subjects, including recovery support strategies and community coalitions. The public is invited to attend, but tickets are $40 each to cover the cost of lunch, according to the administration.

There were 354 drug overdose fatalities in 2018 in Maine, with 80 percent caused by opioids, according to the attorney general’s office.

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.