February 9

OUR OPINION: LePage plan for war on drugs wrong-headed

To thrive, the children of Maine’s addicts need their parents in treatment, not in jail.

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He has proposed deep cuts to treatment programs, instituted limits on how much treatment a MaineCare recipient can access in her or his lifetime and has dropped 19,000 adults from the MaineCare rolls.

Further criminalizing addiction — a mental disorder — will only make pregnant women and parents less likely to seek treatment, feeding the very problem the governor says he wants to fix.

LePage is right to show concern for the children of drug users, but his focus is far too narrow.

Alcohol abuse by women of childbearing years is far more prevalent than illegal drug use and produces the same risk factors experienced by children who live under a drug addict’s care. Tobacco use during pregnancy is proven to cause premature births, and is far more common than opiate use. If the goal is to help more children live healthy and productive lives, why focus solely on illegal drugs?

And treating drug use exclusively as a law enforcement problem ignores what decades of research have shown to be the most effective ways to respond to a complex problem, which has as many psychological causes as criminal ones.

Compassion is good, but it’s better when its combined with a little thought. The governor should do his homework and come back with a real plan for addressing Maine’s drug problem.

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