Addiction Policy News

NNESAM Urges Governor Mills to Reinstate Expanded Syringe Services Programs

September 22, 2021

On September 17th, the Northern New England Society of Addiction Medicine (NNESAM) sent a letter to Governor Janet Mills urging her to reinstate Executive Order 27, which expanded syringe services programs (SSPs) in Maine. Specifically, Executive Order 27 increased the limit on needle exchanges from the one-to-one standard, extended the operating hours of SSPs, and allowed for safety materials to be distributed by mail.

In the letter, NNESAM called on Governor Mills to continue the state’s emergency response by authorizing SSPs to operate at an increased capacity. As evidence for a sustained response, NNESAM cited projections that Maine is expected to experience a record number of overdose deaths in the year 2021. NNESAM also detailed the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic as further evidence for heightened measures. Additionally, NNESAM highlighted the effectiveness of SSPs as a proven harm reduction strategy. Research shows that SSPs limit the transmission of blood borne infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV, which are major public health risks associated with injection-based drug use. SSPs also serve as a critical connection to addiction treatment for individuals struggling with opioid use disorder (OUD). As such, the vital harm reduction services that SSPs provide must remain accessible to all residents during this period of great need.