How specific policies can help stop Maine’s prescription drug abuse epidemic

The rapid rise of the sale of prescription drugs between 1999 and 2010 has resulted in a corresponding problem: death. Sales of prescription painkillers have quadrupled nationally in that time, and so have overdoses. Now more people die from prescription drug overdoses than those from heroin and cocaine combined.

In Maine, the rate of death increased fivefold between 1990 and 2010. There were 2.2 overdose deaths per 100,000 people in 1990 and 12.4 per 100,000 people in 2005. It dipped to 10.4 in 2010.

On Oct. 7, the Trust for America’s Health released a report funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with strategies for how to combat prescription drug abuse. Researchers identified 10 promising state policies and then looked to see whether states have implemented them.

Maine has implemented five, putting it in the bottom 17 states. In the following editorial, the BDN urges lawmakers to consider the remaining policies:

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