Overview of the Drug Addiction Problem in Maine

Harbor in Maine

One might think that Maine would be so far off the beaten path that they would have little drug trafficking or substance abuse. But that is not the way drug traffickers work. Wherever there is a susceptible public, there will be drugs. Maine has a substantial enough problem that Cumberland County, where Portland is located, has been included in the New England High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

Over the years, two serious problems in Maine have been diverted pharmaceutical drugs and marijuana. Cocaine also shows up in moderate quantities, usually brought in by passenger car or concealed in a tractor-trailer. In some areas, cocaine is then cooked into crack cocaine before being sold. In recent years, heroin has become a major drug of abuse in Maine as it is in the other New England states.

Drugs also come into Maine using all the channels successfully employed by traffickers everywhere: package delivery services, U.S. mail, concealment in seagoing cargo containers, couriers on public transportation such as airplanes, trains, buses and private boats that can anchor in any of Maine’s hundreds of secluded coves.

Street gangs that operate in major and midsize cities in every New England state are responsible for most of the retail-level distribution of trafficked substances. Along with gang drug dealing goes increased violent and property crimes.

Arrest Records in Maine Show Marijuana Grows and Diverted Pharmaceuticals in Small Towns

In many small towns across the landscape, Maine residents are being arrested for indoor grows of 50 to 300 plants, or for selling OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Suboxone (used in addiction treatment), methadone, Xanax or other drugs. Bethel, Newry, Waldoboro, Biddeford, and Farmington have recently been the site of such arrests.

Maine Drug Enforcement agents have also arrested residents of other states who bring in drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin or cocaine from other regions, most commonly the Boston area. Most trafficking takes place along the I-95 corridor. The Canadian border also sees trafficking of pharmaceutical drugs being diverted from that nation’s supplies, or Ecstasy (MDMA), a drug commonly used in nightclubs or all-night raves.

Opiate-type Drugs Result in the Highest Number of Deaths

Based on figures from the Drug Abuse Warning Network from 2007, just three counties (Cumberland, Sagadahoc, and York) lost 55 people to drug deaths and an additional 8 to drug-related suicides that year. Nearly all of them were multi-drug deaths, and nearly all of them involved opiates or opioids such as methadone, OxyContin, heroin, morphine or Percocet. Alcohol accounted for seven of the deaths, all of them in combination with other drugs. Deaths involving opiates increased greatly between 2006 and 2007, rising from 32 to 49.

Maine Youth Involved in Many Arrests for Marijuana and a High Proportion of Addiction Treatment Admissions

In 2006, Maine saw more than 2000 arrests for possession of marijuana. More than 400 of these were juveniles. According to federal surveys, ten thousand Maine residents between the ages of 12 and 17 are current users of marijuana. They also account for more than one-quarter the number of people admitted to addiction treatment centers.

Alcohol abuse sends the highest number of people of any age to substance abuse treatment facilities, either alcohol alone or alcohol with a secondary drug. Right after alcohol comes opiates. While 7,272 entered drug addiction treatment for alcohol in 2008, 5,708 needed addiction treatment for heroin or one of the other opiate or opioid drugs.

Returning Maine to its Hardy, Independent Roots

Those who fall prey to drug addiction need substance abuse treatment centers that can help them learn to live completely drug-free. Unfortunately, this is often not the case in many of Maine’s drug rehabilitation centers. Too often, methadone or Suboxone as a long-term solution. A person may be diagnosed as suffering from depression and may be given a benzodiazepine such as Xanax, Klonopin or Ativan. But it is possible to recover from addiction without further drugs.

The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program supports a person with thoroughly researched nutritional therapy and gentle re-orientation exercises help make withdrawal symptoms tolerable, meaning substitute drugs are not needed. By then proceeding to restore one’s self-esteem and personal values, an addict can learn how to become a healthy person free from the need to abuse other drugs and can establish a new, productive life for himself or herself once again.

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