Maine Recovery Organizations Scrambling After State Pulls $570,000 Contract

By McCarton Ackerman 08/28/15

Legislators have written Gov. Paul LePage a letter asking him to reverse the state's decision. Good luck with that.

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A major substance abuse provider organization in Maine will soon be unable to serve thousands of their clients after the state has decided to terminate a $570,000 contract with them.

The Maine Association of Substance Abuse Programs has had the contract in place for 13 years, but it will come to an end on Dec. 31. They are now scrambling to find private donors and other alternative methods to keep two prevention and recovery programs operating at regular capacity, including the Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery.

The contract break will effectively eliminate funding for that program’s coordinator, who offers peer-based recovery support groups throughout Maine and also helps train “recovery coaches” for local communities and the Maine State Prison. It will also eliminate funding for the coordinator of the Maine Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse, which works with agencies across the state to create education programs geared towards preventing youth alcohol and drug use.

Ruth Blauer, executive director of the organization, said she was told that the administration no longer needs their services. But David Sorensen, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the state determined the same service needs can be met through three state positions being developed instead of the five contract positions funded under the agreement.

Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves spoke out against the decision to end the contacts in a letter to Maine Gov. Paul LePage. He wrote that a comprehensive approach was needed because "substance abuse treatment alone or law enforcement alone won't get us over the finish line."

LePage has been criticized by focusing more on law enforcement crackdowns against drug users than adequate treatment options. The governor has fought back by declaring that there is adequate substance abuse treatment funding, but that the state needs more drug enforcement agents.

Earlier this month, LePage called for a summit to address the ongoing heroin epidemic in the state. He also declared that he may be forced to use the Maine National Guard if more funding isn’t provided for drug trafficking enforcement.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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