Paul LePage, Republican Governor of Maine, probably ranks fourth on my list favorite ultra-conservative Governors after Brownback of Kansas, Jindal of Louisiana and Walker of Wisconsin.  A Tea Party favorite back in 2014 when he won the Governorship as a result of Maine’s thriving third and fourth party candidacies, he won on a Democratic split vote.   LePage has told Obama to “go to hell,”  rescinded the state’s ban on BPA’s in baby bottles, rolled back environmental laws, and told his young constituents “If you want a good education, go to private schools.  If you can’t afford it, though luck.  You can go to public school.”   Maine, pretty much filled with independent thinkers and live and let live folks, has in the past, produced such non-radical Republican pubic servants as Margaret Chase Smith, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to name three from a longer list. 

Tea Bagger darling LePage has instituted a five year limitation on the receipt of welfare benefits and refused to expand Medicaid coverage as a part of the ACA.  Despite all his governance issues, Maine has a problem.  A big problem.  A big drug problem and LePage, in true “individual responsibility” and “personal initiative” fashion, has done nothing about it.   Heroin, once the scourge of inner city Black neighborhoods, has invaded middle and upper class Maine communities with a vengeance.   While the heroin epidemic is not limited to Maine, across the country deaths from heroin overdoes quadrupled between 2003 and 2013, a recent Washington Post article describes the plight of one upper middle class family in Falmouth (pop 11,000) next to Portland, Maine and the death of their son.  It makes for compelling reading and starkly illustrates how young white kids fall prey to deadly heroin use. 

(Here's the link to the WashPo article)

Across the state of Maine, deaths from heroin ballooned from 7 in 2010 to 57 last year and two thirds of the victims were in their 20’s and 30’s.  But in tony Falmouth, until the death of the young man described in the article, the problem wasn’t talked about.  Not talked about in families nor discussed in the community.  And it seems like it’s a problem that isn’t being discussed very much anywhere else.  We see and hear tons of bullshit about welfare cheats, Black drug thugs, and tons of vomitus ravings about the diseased, raping immigrants from Fox, Rush and now Trump.

But skyrocketing deaths among middle and upper class whites from heroin overdoses? Not a word.  Huh.  Isn’t that strange?   

In Maine, the state’s largest private treatment facility, Mercy Recovery Center closed it’s doors thereby eliminating 250 treatment beds and leaving only a state-run treatment program left in the entire state that has an 18 month waiting list for admission.   Governor LePage has proposed ending state funding for methadone treatment to save $1.6 million over two years and prefers treatment with Suboxone, a replacement opiate that can only be obtained though a doctor’s prescription.  And according to Federal rules, it can only be prescribed by doctors who have undergone special training and who can only treat 30 patients at a time.  Brilliant public policy move Governor LePage.  This basically leaves addicts on their own to buy methadone and Suboxone on the street and to self-medicate.  I’m sure that this public policy strategy will be a roaring success.

As Maine public official Caroline Teschke states: “We have nowhere to put people who don’t have  wealthy mother in the suburbs. Every day we have people begging for help.  The only sure way to get help is to be a young pregnant female.” 

According to Maine Attorney General Janet Mills. “We had overdose deaths in every county in the state last year, but we have fewer treatment facilities and we’ve removed thousands of people from the Medicaid rolls.  We don’t know how to deal with it.  These are people who want treatment and we have nothing for them.”

As you may be aware, the heroin epidemic is not limited to the East Coast, it’s pretty much everywhere being fueled, according to reports, from cheap imports from Mexico.  After thirty years of conservative get tough social policy, I’m guessing that the country – the states, in reality, since this is where drug treatment is focused – is ill prepared to address this problem and it will be ignored as so many other problems have been over the past thirty years.  

As to the young lives lost as a result?  The families devastated by the deaths of their children?  The desperate addicts wanting treatment?  Well, that’s just tough isn’t it.  This, in my view, is criminal.   I sincerely hope no one you know has been or will be a victim of a deadly overdose. 

Have a good day. 


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