Hello. This is your Governor, Paul LePage.
I'd like to take the time to talk about a silent epidemic that is having a profound effect on our State and people.
Prescription drug abuse is a problem for all Mainers, all Maine families and particularly for those who are afflicted with addiction.
While illicit drugs receive much attention, the non-medical use of diverted prescription drugs is a significant and growing threat to the public health and safety of Mainers.
Over the last decade, opiate drug use and abuse has been a rising problem in Maine schools, home and community at large.
24% of Maine's high school seniors and 11% of 8th graders report having used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons.
These prescription drugs are fueling the increase in thefts, burglaries, robberies and murders.
We have the oldest population in the Nation and with a growing number of seniors legally being prescribed medication; more and more medicine cabinets are being raided so addictions can be fed.
Since 1998, Mainers have consistently sought treatment for addiction to non-heroin opiates at rates significantly higher than in other states or in the nation as a whole.
But the data is grim. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Schedule II prescription painkillers, like oxycodone, today cause more drug overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined.
In 2009, Maine experienced the highest number of deaths due to drug overdoses - 179. 94% were caused by at least one pharmaceutical drug.
We must get a handle on this problem. To accomplish this, it will take a collaborative effort from parents, school administrations, law enforcement, doctors, pharmacists, seniors and our court system.
This week, Maine Attorney General Bill Schneider hosted the "Prescription Drug Misuse Summit" in Camden where nearly one hundred government officials, medical professionals and addiction experts came together to discuss a course of action for Maine. The group focused on current efforts, identifying ways to share resources and expand efforts and identify actions to be taken, including policy changes.
There are four areas of prevention strategy Attorney General Schneider will be working on which include informing and engaging adults to prevent misuse; informing and engaging youths, parents and schools to prevent misuse; safe disposal of unused and expired medications; and helping prescribers prevent diversion.
The medical community has to help by limiting the amount of painkillers prescribed.
We need to get these drugs out of the hands of the wrong people.
On Saturday, October 29 you can do your part to help. The Drug Enforcement Agency has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 29, 2011, from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. to provide a venue for persons who want to dispose of unwanted and unused prescription drugs.
To find a drop off location nearest to you, please, call 2-1-1.
There are more than 100 law enforcement agencies taking part in the Drug Take Back Program and I encourage you to spread the word.
In April, the State collected nearly 12-thousand pounds of unwanted and unused painkillers placing the state as #1 in the U.S. per capita for the nationwide collection.
It's a step that has surely saved lives.
Again, to locate a drop off point nearest to you, please, call 2-1-1. There are more than 150 sites throughout our State.
Let's keep up this good work.
Thank you for taking the time to listen and take care.