Posted by Julie L'Heureux

A big picture statistical overview about The Opioid Crises in Maine was presented by Tim Cowan, MSPH, Director of Data Reporting and Evaluation with the Center for Health Improvement at MaineHealth. The statistical overview was intended to help Rotarians to develop a 360 degree look at substance abuse. The aggregated data tracked statistics about mortality in Maine thru 2016, compared to other populations and in the 16 Maine counties. Information was presented about improving population health by tracking the progress being made to prevent drug and substance abuse overdoses. It’s possible that the data reports forthcoming with more information about 2016-2018 statistics, could report an improvement on population health as a result of the responses to the epidemic. Tim acknowledged how important it is for Rotarians to be aware about how to help stop this epidemic.

A bullet summary from the data reports the following:

1. Drug overdose deaths: Maine had the 7th largest increase in the U.S. from 2010-12, compared to 2014-16. In all the aggregated data reported thru 2016, Maine reported an increase in overall deaths related to drug overdoses.

2. Drug overdose death rates in Maine counties, comparing the same time periods, showed Androscoggin, Cumberland, Kennebec, Washington and York with greater deaths than average for the state.  

3. Unfortunately, Maine is also among the states to report a high number of law enforcement encounters that test positive for Fentanyl.

4. Prevention intervention data reports show that opioid prescribing rates per 100,000 population are declining in Maine and in the U.S.

5. All overdoses and nearly all deaths caused by overdoses, involved some form of opioid- almost all involving some form of illicit opioid (heroin or synthetic form).  

6. Data about babies affected by opioid addiction was also included in the statistics.

Treating substance use disorders and preventing the spread of the crisis are challenging because there is no data readily available to demonstrate clear correlations with progress.  Access to health care is an obstacle to receiving treatment. Support for the Maine Medicaid expansion would give thousands of eligible beneficiaries the opportunity to receive treatment.  Also, the number of residential treatment beds available to those who are in recovery has not increased, but remained flat in recent years, while the crisis has grown. Tim is willing to share his data slides with interested parties. Contact him at:


(Tim Cowan and President John Curran.)