Governor LePage Renews the War on Drugs & It Will Cost Maine More

“We must hunt down drug dealers and get them off the streets. We must protect our citizens from drug-related crimes and violence.” – Paul LePage

Statements like these are likely to give me an aneurism. The arrogance of those who understand so little about addiction astounds me. There was this thing, Governor. It was called the War on Drugs. Ronald Reagan started it over thirty years ago. It continues despite the fact that we’re worse off than ever.

More police, more prosecution, more saber rattling. Your statements are the political equivalent of Nancy Reagan suggesting we “Just say no!” Naive, arrogant, and oversimplifying the problem.To imply that we can eliminate drug dealers is utterly irresponsible and objectively untrue.

It’s so much easier to talk about fighting the good fight than to seek new solutions. You continue to advocate approaches that reduce and undervalue prevention, treatment, education, and community organization. Worse, you keep trying to reinvent the wheel.

The Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery(CCAR) has created a model and practices that are well worth emulating. Their success is largely attributed to the simple fact that policy decisions regarding drug and alcohol addiction are developed by consulting with the true experts on drugs and alcohol (recovering addicts and alcoholics).

You’re correct, Governor, in citing 163 drug-induced deaths in Maine in 2012, yet you remain opposed to expanding use of Naloxone, despite enormous amounts of research showing it’s an effective life saving measure for those who have overdosed on opiates. Why do you oppose what’s been shown to work in other states?

927 drug-addicted babies were born last year in Maine. Yeah, Governor, that one kicks me in the gut every time I hear it. You say, “We must save our babies from lifelong suffering.” That would require effective treatment before birth and ideally, treatment for women before they become pregnant.

Except a very high percentage of those folks won’t receive treatment because they don’t qualify for Maine Care before they become pregnant/parents…You remain opposed to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

The recent closing of Crossroad’s Halfway Home for Women was a direct result of the state pulling funding for undisclosed reasons. How can you leave women on wait lists for months on end to receive treatment and proclaim a desire to prevent babies born of addiction?

It’s time to stop grandstanding and spewing empty propaganda, Governor. Organize and call upon the Recovery Communities of Maine and involve those of us providing front line treatment. You’re missing several pieces of the puzzle. Maine can’t afford status quo. More importantly, while you count beans, we continue to count bodies.

 

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.