Submission Type

Original Research



Introduction: The Diversion Alert Program (DAP) was established to curb misuse of drugs and help identify people who may need treatment for substance use disorder (SUD). Law enforcement compiled arrest data into a database accessible by health care providers. Our objectives were to identify regional and demographic differences in drug use and misuse in Maine.

Methods: All arrests (N = 11 234) reported to the DAP from 2013 to 2018 were examined by county and arrestee demographics, and classified into families (opioids, stimulants, sedatives). The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS) tracks the distribution of controlled pharmaceuticals (Schedule II-III). Opioids were converted to oral morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs). County and zip-code maps were constructed.

Results: The most arrests per capita occurred in Androscoggin, Knox, and Cumberland Counties. Opioids were the most common drug class in arrests in all counties except Aroostook County, where stimulants were most common. Medical distribution of opioids varied. Although buprenorphine doubled, many prescription opioids (eg, hydrocodone, fentanyl, oxymorphone) exhibited large (> 50%) reductions in distribution. Methadone was the predominant opioid statewide (56.4% of total MMEs), although there were sizable differences between regions (Presque Isle = 8.6%, Bangor = 78.9%). Amphetamine distribution increased by 67.9%.

Discussion: The DAP, a unique pharmacoepidemiological resource, revealed a 6-fold difference in drug arrests by county. Regional differences in methadone may be due to heterogeneities in methadone clinic distribution.

Conclusions: The decrease in most prescription opioids, but increase in prescription stimulants, may warrant continued monitoring to improve public health.

Sup_Fig_1_JMMC_2021 revised.tiff (1112 kB)
supp fig 1 for puplication



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