The Maine Substance Abuse Services Commission recently released the first ever report card that measures how well a state is doing in addressing alcohol and drug prevention, treatment and recovery related issues and needs. The report card was modeled after Join Together’s “Blueprint for the States: Policies to Improve the Ways States Organized and Deliver Alcohol and Drug Prevention and Treatment,” a 2006 report.
The report card uses four categories, the scores of which are used as a baseline for biennial review. Background regarding each score and recommendations for improvement are included in the report. Here are some of the key findings from the report card:
Leadership/Structure and Sustainability Grade: C
Recommendation – Maine needs to ensure that substance abuse is seen as a public health issue and all agencies and organizations that are impacted are engaged in a statewide strategy to address the challenges specifically the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Departments of Correction, Education and Public Safety.
Resources Grade: C
Recommendations – Maine needs to reinstate drug courts and juvenile services for youth to intervene with high-risk young people before they create additional drains on local, county, and state law enforcement, corrections, and social service agency budgets.
Prescription Monitoring Program is an asset which supports efforts to reduce misuse and diversion of prescription drugs; use of this system should be mandatory.
Legislative Initiatives Grade: C
Recommendation – Maine needs to complete a comprehensive analysis of the state alcohol control and licensing system to fully understand how current practices address the state’s interest in balancing the availability of alcoholic beverages with the need for public safety and health.
Measurement and Accountability Grade: B
Recommendation – Provide state officials and policy makers with educational training on substance abuse as a disease and a public health issue that has real human and fiscal costs.
The report also called for the state to develop a recovery-oriented system of care, and to increase the access to treatment through insurance coverage.
In 2005, the Maine Office of Substance Abuse estimated that the cost of substance abuse in Maine was at $898.4 million or $682 for every resident in that year alone. It is most likely higher in 2010. While these grades aren’t too bad to start off with, there is much more work to be done. The Maine Substance Abuse Services Commission is hoping to implement the recommendations in the report in order to address the alcohol and drug issues that all Mainers are paying for.