Health Index Priority: Decrease Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction

MaineHealth is implementing a chronic disease management program that incorporates appropriate prescribing of opioids and education about prevention of and treatment for opioid use disorder as close to home as possible.

Why does MaineHealth focus on decreasing prescription drug abuse and addiction?

  • Prescription drug and opioid overdose has risen sharply over the last decade and is considered one of our most pressing public health issues.
  • Maine had the fifth largest increase in drug overdose deaths in the U.S. between 2011-2013 and 2014-2016. 
  • Maine's recent surge in overdose deaths continued in 2017 with 418 lives lost, compared to 378 in 2016.
  • In Maine, about 8% of babies born in 2017 had some degree of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.    
  • Drug overdose is now responsible for the most years of life lost prematurely among men under age 70 in Maine.    

Taking Action

 We support a variety of clinical, community and policy actions to help decrease prescription drug abuse and addiction throughout the MaineHealth service area. Here are some of the ways MaineHealth and our partners are responding:

Tracking Progress

The Health Index initiative tracks and monitors a variety of data source to measure progress being made to decrease prescription drug abuse and addiction. In 2016, MaineHealth leaders set bold, aggressive targets for two of these measures as a way to challenge MaineHealth organizations to continue achieving positive steps toward the MaineHealth vision.

Short-term measure and target:

  • 100% of opioid prescribers at MaineHealth organizations completed three hours of Continuing Medical Education on prescribing opioid medication by December 31, 2017.*

* Since this target was developed, a 2016 Maine state law now mandates that opioid prescribers complete 3 hours of CME on opioid prescribing every 2 years. MaineHealth is now focused on continuing to reduce the number of patients prescribed opioids above the 100 MME (morphine milligram equivalents)- this threshold is considered to be high risk for addiction and overdose.

Long-term measure and target:

  • For the period 2018-2020, the 3-year, age-adjusted rate of all drug overdose deaths in the MaineHealth service area will 12/100,000 or less.

Daily Morphine Equivalent Rates in MaineHealth Service Area (Short-term measure and target)

PrescriptionDrugEPICMMEsbypractice

 In 2018, providers at MaineHealth practices (graphic above) continued to reduce the number of patients who were prescribed opioids with an estimated daily morphine equivalent of ≥100 mg equivalents.  This level of morphine equivalent increases the risk of developing opioid use disorder and the risk of overdose.  Overall the number of patients with high-risk levels of morphine equivalents has been cut in half (graphic below) between 2015 and 2018. 

 

MMEMainehealthtotalst

Drug Overdose Death Rates (Long-term measure and target)

 PrescriptionDrugLongTermTarget

Comparing the three-year drug overdose death rate from 2012-2014 to 2013-2015, Maine had the fifth largest increase in the nation. Maine's recent surge continued into 2016 with one Mainer per day lost to overdose.

The increase of overdose deaths in Maine and the nation is a result of a shift from increasingly scarce prescription opioids to more available and less expensive heroin. With this shift has come a higher risk of overdose from heroin and the even more deadly fentanyl that is often mixed with, or substituted for, heroin.

Neonatal Abstinence Births

 HealthIndex-Rx-NAS-Births

In Maine,about 8% of all births in 2017 had Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

NAS occurs in newborns when a mother who is addicted to or treated with opioids during pregnancy and refers to post-natal opioid withdrawal syndrome. Babies exposed can have lower birthweight, more preterm births, difficulty sleeping and eating and are more anxious. There is limited data on the long-term developmental outcomes related to opioid exposure during pregnancy.

Counties with the highest rate of NAS births include Washington and Somerset counties. Those with the lowest rates of NAS births are in Cumberland, Sagadahoc and York counties.

Drug Overdose Deaths by Age Group

HealthIndex-Rx-Deaths-by-Age-Group

Although many may associate the involvement of heroin and other street drugs with overdoses among younger adults, there actually has been an increase in the proportion of older adults dying of overdose. In the MaineHealth service area, the percentage of individuals who were ages 45 and over, among all who died of a drug overdose was 43% in 2014-2016, up from 29% in 2002-2002. 

Interactive maps with county-level data

Looking for more data about prescription drug abuse and addiction? Visit the Health Index website to find data on drug deaths, neonatal abstinence births, and days supply of opiates.
Explore

Latest News

View All

Upcoming Classes & Events

View All