Maine is a picturesque state nestled into the very upper right hand corner of our country. It’s famous for its wild forests and its lobster fishing, but Maine has a lot more to offer than just the picture postcard facts that it’s famous for across the country. The state has a long history dating back to several Algonquin tribes that lived in the area long before European settlers arrived. It was later part of Massachusetts and eventually broke off to become its own state in 1820.

While Maine is one of the least populous states in the country, in recent years it has had difficulty with a number of different drug problems, and that is the focus of this roundup of drug addiction-related information. 

The Maine Drug Problem

The main issues that the state of Maine is struggling with in regards to substance abuse and addiction are as follows:

  • Maine is in the top ten of states in several categories of drug use, such as past-month illegal use of any type of drug, past-month use of marijuana among people over the age of 12, and past-year cocaine use among 18 to 25-year-olds.
  • Almost 12 percent of Maine citizens report drug use in the past month, a figure far higher than the national average of 8.82 percent of Americans.
  • The number of deaths directly caused by drug abuse is higher than the national average. In Maine, drug-induced deaths are at 13.8 per 100,000 people, compared to 12.8 per 100,000 across the country.

What Drugs are Being Used In Maine

One of the most dangerous trends in Maine is the prescription drug epidemic. This topic is covered in full as well as points of information on the other drugs of abuse in Maine:

  • Marijuana is quickly dropping in its share of all drug rehab treatment admissions. In 1993 it reached a peak of over 60 percent of all admissions, but the drug has been steadily dropping in use and now accounts for only 15 percent of admissions.
  • Stimulants such as meth have not been a large problem in Maine—they are responsible for only about 1 percent of all treatment admissions.
  • Cocaine and crack do not make up a large number of treatment admissions and currently sit at about 7 percent.
  • Heroin treatment admissions have stayed steady at about 15 percent of all admissions.
  • Opioid-based prescription painkillers are skyrocketing in their percentage of the total number of treatment admissions. Twenty years ago they accounted for almost no admissions, but as of 2011 they had shot up to 60 percent of admissions state-wide. This is an epidemic that doesn’t show signs of stopping yet.

Maine takes Steps to Curb Prescription Drug Overdoses

The increase of prescription drug sales from the years of ’99 to ’10 has resulted in deaths. Prescription painkiller sales have quadrupled across the nation during that time, as well as drug related deaths. The majority of drug deaths from prescription drugs exceed that of heroin and cocaine overdoses combined.

There have been steps taken to curb the increase in overdoses and has implemented 10 state policies.

There are only two states that have embraced all ten policies. One state is Vermont, and the other is New Mexico. Maine ranks in the bottom 17 states.

The measures Maine has taken are:

— Prescription drug monitoring program. A state run electronic database can track when drugs are given or prescribed to patients.

— Doctor shopping law. It is illegal in every state to visit multiple doctors to get drugs from pharmacies.

— Physical exam requirement. A screening for substance abuse and exam is mandatory in 44 states before any prescriptions are given.

— ID requirement. 32 states make it obligatory to ask for idea before giving painkillers.

— Pharmacy lock-in program. A single pharmacist is required if a patient is suspected of abusing prescriptions.

Strategies not employed by the state of Maine:

—Prescription drug monitoring program being mandatory. It is not required that the drug monitoring system must be used by physicians.

— Substance abuse treatment. Maine does not have expanded Medicaid that would cover insurance for those seeking addiction treatments.

— Medical provider education law. Medical students only require 11 hours of pain and pain management training. 22 states require more required pain treatment studying.

— Good Samaritan law. Drug users overdosing or those witnessing it are provided a level of immunity for calling 911 in this instance.

Prescription abuse can be subsided with the implementation of these laws.

Resources and Sources for Maine Drug Treatment Maine Drug Control Update –

The Bangor Daily News – Five More Laws to Help Stop Maine’s Prescription Drug Epidemic –