Prescripton drug abuse driven by availability, barriers to treatment | News
BRUNSWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Experts say prescription drug abuse continues to be a big problem in Maine and across the country because of the availability of the drug and continuing barriers to treatment.
This week, the New England School of Addiction Studies and Prevention Studies is holding classes at Bowdoin College. Experts in addiction there say more and more doctors are getting the message not to over-prescribe addictive medication.
But it is still easy to come by. Plus, fewer people have health insurance to pay for treatment, and fewer insurers are covering it. And Mainers in rural areas often have to travel far to get treatment.
Michael Torch of the Addiction Technology Transfer Center of New England at Brown University said it's a problem nationwide. "We're kind of stuck in one of those awkward cycles where we've dismantled the treatment system, so one of the only places where people have access to treatment is in the criminal justice system."
Brenda Westberry, the former Chief Probation Officer for the state of Connecticut also says that people leaving prison often don't get matched with the kind of treatment they need. Probation officers have large case loads. She says more resources for treatment are important but, "not just resources, appropriate and effective resources."
Maine's Office of Substance Abuse reports that for two consecutive years, more people were admitted to treatment primarily for opioid addiction than were admitted for alcohol.