A county with just about no therapy facilities for opioid dependancy had the second worst deadly overdose price amongst rural counties final 12 months in Maine.
At first look, 11 suspected and confirmed overdose deaths throughout January via December 2021 in Piscataquis County doesn’t seem important in contrast with lots of Maine’s different counties, in response to knowledge from the Maine Drug Knowledge Hub. Neighboring Somerset County, for instance, had 26 deadly overdoses in that timeframe, and Oxford County had 28.
The severity of opioid dependancy in Piscataquis — with its 17,165 folks, in response to Census knowledge from July 2021 — is a way more hanging drawback when contemplating the speed of deadly overdoses final 12 months per each 1,000 residents.
Piscataquis County had the second highest price of suspected and confirmed deadly drug overdoses per 1,000 folks final 12 months amongst rural counties in Maine, falling simply behind Washington County, in response to an evaluation of U.S. Census and Maine Drug Knowledge Hub data. That’s the reason medical professionals have been pushing for extra therapy choices, however some residents consider it’s not a extreme sufficient challenge to warrant a clinic devoted to opioid dependancy.
Out of each 1,000 residents in Piscataquis County, 0.64 died from an overdose final 12 months, knowledge present. That price was 0.80 in Washington County, though there are therapy facilities there.
Different rural counties throughout the state — Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, Somerset and Waldo — had decrease charges and are extra populated. Charges ranged from about 0.27 deadly overdoses per 1,000 folks in Franklin and Knox to 0.57 in Aroostook.
Penobscot County’s price was near Piscataquis, with about 0.6 deadly overdoses per 1,000 folks final 12 months.
In Dover-Foxcroft, a therapy middle that might supply Suboxone, the model title of a drugs that comprises buprenorphine and naloxone, was proposed for downtown and got here earlier than the city’s planning board final month. Residents packed the city workplace and weighed the advantages of a therapy middle in opposition to the danger of exposing youngsters to these searching for therapy and doubtlessly altering the character of their downtown, amongst different considerations. The proposal is now on pause.
About six practitioners supply the therapy via Northern Mild Well being’s C.A. Dean Hospital in Greenville, girls’s well being at Mayo Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft, major care workplace in Milo and first care on the Piscataquis County Jail, mentioned David McDermott, vp of medical affairs and senior doctor govt at C.A. Dean and Mayo.
There are not any residential applications within the county for detox or restoration, he mentioned. Katahdin Valley Well being Middle in Brownville and Hometown Well being Middle in Dexter, simply outdoors of Piscataquis, don’t supply providers for opioid use dysfunction.
About 120 individuals are enrolled in MOUD, or medicine for opioid use dysfunction, therapy applications in Piscataquis County, McDermott mentioned.
“Sufferers who’re hospitalized at Mayo with an opioid use dysfunction can start MOUD therapy as an inpatient and bridge to an outpatient apply after discharge,” he mentioned. “We’re working to construct extra capability to provoke therapy within the emergency division for sufferers there who battle with [opioid use disorder] and wish to enroll in an MOUD program.”
Piscataquis County residents additionally journey outdoors the county for therapy, although what number of is troublesome to quantify. Bangor seems to have the most important cluster of therapy choices outdoors the realm, although not all of them supply medicine for opioid use dysfunction. Somerset County and Millinocket even have services.
The opioid epidemic impacts Maine’s rural areas otherwise in contrast with extra populated areas, Gordon Smith, the state’s director of opioid response, mentioned. Individuals aren’t prone to discover strong sources of therapy inside an inexpensive drive in Piscataquis, however discovering and retaining employees for a brand new therapy clinic within the space might be difficult, he mentioned.
“In the identical approach that offering medical care is troublesome in some areas, should you take a subset of that medical care that’s already stigmatized — psychological well being and substance use dysfunction — it makes it tougher for folks to search out therapy, to search out allies, to drop right into a restoration middle,” Smith mentioned.
Rural counties like Piscataquis County have all the time handled important poverty, transportation points and workforce shortages, and the COVID-19 pandemic layered on high led to extra isolation, he mentioned. Individuals attending 12-step applications for restoration, for example, out of the blue needed to go digital, and a few couldn’t as a result of they don’t have web providers.
It wasn’t shocking that overdoses and mortality charges for overdoses elevated all through the pandemic, Smith mentioned.
Though it’s troublesome to trace the prevalence of energetic substance use in an space, knowledge from nationwide surveys and state sources spotlight the necessity for extra providers in rural counties like Piscataquis, Smith mentioned.
Among the many plans the state has to assist folks with dependancy are: rising the variety of low-barrier entry in emergency rooms statewide; increasing telehealth choices; and strong training for medical professionals, together with these in emergency departments who can join sufferers to neighborhood suppliers. Different efforts are outlined within the state’s 2021 opioid response strategic motion plan.
“We have to acknowledge that we’re not resistant to this nationwide problem, that opioids have taken over the lives of lots of our residents and really have taken the lives of many extra,” McDermott mentioned. “There are good instruments that may assist to offer people again management of their lives and return to the workforce.”
For these excited about enrolling in restoration applications in Piscataquis County: Name Northern Mild Main Care in Milo at 207-943-7752 or C.A. Dean Hospital at 207-695-5238. Pregnant girls or girls in restoration planning for being pregnant can name Northern Mild Girls’s Well being at 207-564-4470 for an appointment and to debate care.