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Group tasked with helping to distribute opioid settlement funds in Maine meets for the first time

Over the next two decades, Maine is expected to receive at least $130 million from opioid manufacturers and distributors as part of a legal settlement. The newly-formed Maine Recovery Council will decide how to spend half of those funds, and they held their first meeting Tuesday in Augusta.

The Council was established earlier this year by state law and is tasked with using settlement funds to strengthen prevention, treatment, recovery and harm reduction services throughout Maine.

Its 15 members, which include state and local officials, treatment providers, and individuals in the recovery community, discussed the need to increase residential beds for MaineCare clients. Council member Pat Kimball worked for more than 30 years in substance use and mental health treatment.

"Where are those beds, and are those beds specific?" said Kimball. "Are they women and children's program, are they men's program? Where are they located? Are they located in one part of the state? Those are the gap kind of things we need to look at."

Some members of the council also highlighted the lack of nurses and counselors to treat people with substance use disorder, as well as the need to expand harm reduction services.

The council has yet to decide where to direct funding. Its next meeting is Dec. 20.