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Governor Mills: My application for Director of Opiate Response

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

Dear Governor,

Thank you for leading our state and implementing common-sense measures like Medicaid expansion. I’m excited to hear that you want a Director of Opiate Response. I’d like to be considered for the job.

I’ll work cheap, but I should warn you – I can’t tolerate sitting in endless meetings with bureaucrats. I apologize if that sounds unkind, but you see, I’ve been attending such meetings in our state since former Attorney General Schneider held Maine’s first addiction summit (about ten years too late).

All these years later, not only have we failed to make substantive progress, we’ve lost a great deal personally and systemically. Your predecessor counted beans while those of us up close and personal with addiction counted the bodies claimed by the disease of addiction.

418 is a lot more than a number to me and mine.

As I understand it, you want your prospective Director to, “Coordinate the state’s response across government entities and report back on additional strategies to combat it.”

Ok! I have additional strategies galore and they’re yours for free! Even better, they’re all common-sense measures:

Expensive and necessary:

  1. Expanded and affordable access to Narcan is vital to reducing overdose deaths. It needs to be in the hands of family members who have loved ones in active addiction as well as with front-line workers in social services, and all first responders. Folks can’t recover if they’re dead.

  2. Medical detox is all but unattainable in our state and this must change. It’s a losing proposition for the private sector and needs to be subsidized by DHHS. Folks can’t recover if they can’t get through the detox process.

  3. Restoring cuts made to multiple programs and sections of Maine Care under Lepage’s administration. Especially in case management services and restriction of counseling services when a person is prescribed Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).

Huge Bang for the Buck:

  1. Mandatory prevention education programs in Maine schools K-12 with an emphasis on curriculum between grades 5-8.

  2. Support the development of community recovery centers like the Bangor Area Recovery Network statewide, with priority to rural areas.

  3. Support the training of any and all volunteers statewide who wish to become Recovery Coaches through the CCAR model.

  4. Restore treatment for “Affected Others” (those with loved ones in active addiction) to Maine Care covered services.


  1. Join Young People in Recovery (YPR) a true grassroots movement doing brilliant service to bring our sons and daughters into addiction recovery through education, support, and the meeting of basic life needs.

  2. Support harm reduction in every form it exists. Especially clean needle exchanges statewide as they’re proven to reduce the spread of communicable diseases.

  3. Attend “Open” meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to see first-hand how truly effective 12 step fellowships are.

  4. Legislation at the state and federal level that removes obstacles to housing and employment for those whose criminal behavior occurred while in active addiction.

  5. Always go to the true experts: Those with lived experience. People with long-term recovery from addiction are among the greatest untapped resources in our state and it’s high time we ensured their wisdom is front and center in our policymaking and planning.

Many more ideas upon request. Please, Governor, come down to the trenches and please, do everything in your power to help my brothers and sisters live.

Jim LaPierre MSW, LCSW, CCS

Executive Director

Higher Ground Services

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