Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jun 2005
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Author: Ronni Katz


I would like to thank the Portland Press Herald and reporter David Hench 
for the article about overdose fatalities that appeared June 10.

As program coordinator of the city of Portland's Health and Human Services 
Division's Overdose Prevention Project, I was pleased to see such important 
coverage of this very serious and sad issue.

Since the formation of the Overdose Prevention Project in early 2003, we 
have seen a steady decline of fatal overdoses here in Portland, even when 
preliminary 2004 reports indicate that numbers have increased throughout 
the state.

This is largely due to the collaborative efforts by people from various 
sectors of this city, including public health, substance abuse treatment 
programs, law enforcement and prevention workers.

Through education and outreach, we have been able to reach a large 
percentage of the drug-using population. This has been evidenced by the 
increase in 911 calls for drug overdoses, and that has helped bring down 
the amount of fatal overdoses overall.

Still, even one fatal overdose is too many. Every overdose victim is 
somebody's child and often a brother, sister, parent or friend.

Having the disease of addiction does not remove the state of humanity that 
creates the common thread among us all.

We will not know for a while whether this possible increase in fatalities 
is a temporary situation or a surge, but, either way, we must continue to 
work together to help protect the lives of some of our most vulnerable 



Substance Abuse Prevention Program Health and Human Services Department 
Public Health Division

City of Portland
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom