The ACLU of Maine is urging the Health and Human Service Committee to pass LD 1686, "An Act To Address Preventable Deaths from Drug Overdose" a bill that will greatly increase access to Naloxone, a drug used to prevent deaths in the case of an opioid overdose. The committee is scheduled to have a work session on the bill Monday, February 24th at 1:00pm.

  The ACLU of Maine is in Augusta urging our lawmakers to pass this vital bill. Join us in telling legislators to support LD 1686. To find your legislator's contact information please click here. In addition you can sign our petition to Maine lawmakers and the Governor by clicking here   

During last week's public hearing on LD 1686 we heard from numerous individuals - including legislators, doctors, parents, law enforcement and advocacy groups -  about the benefits of increasing the availability of naloxone. As I blogged about last week, programs that increase the availability of naloxone have been proven to save lives with very little cost to the public (approximately $22 per kit). In San Francisco, naloxone has been distributed since the late nineties with support from the city’s Department of Public Health. Since then, heroin overdose fatalities decreased from a high of 155 deaths in 1995 to only 10 deaths in 2010. Similarly, in response to a surge in overdose deaths, in 2010 the police department of Quincy, Massachusetts successfully led efforts to expand the availability of naloxone, leading to a significant reduction in deaths related to overdose.

To read the ACLU of Maine's testimony on LD 1686 please click here.

Opponents of the bill speculate that Naloxone will create "a false sense of security" or discourage people suffering from drug addiction to access treatment. Research does not support this claim. To the contrary, a six-month study of the pilot program in San Francisco found that program participants who had access to naloxone were injecting opioids less frequently and even noted a small increase in participants entering drug treatment programs. One thing is sure however: those who die as a result of an opioid overdose will never enter treatment.

As reiterated by an editorial in the Kennebec Sun Journal today, Naloxone is a simple way to save dozens of Maine lives each year. Maine has one of the highest rates of opioid addiction among youth and young adults and a rapidly increasing heroin problem. Increased access to naloxone for those most at risk of overdose will ensure that fewer lives are lost in this tragic manner.  Simply put, LD 1686 will save lives.

Take action today. To find your legislator's contact information please click here. In addition you can sign our petition to Maine lawmakers and the Governor by clicking here.