By Associated Press - Thursday, April 8, 2021

BRUNSWICK, Maine (AP) - More Maine police departments have begun distributing fentanyl testing strips to people who may have been exposed to the powerful opioid.

The Bath and Brunswick police departments are the latest agencies to join the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative’s One2One program, which supplies agencies with fentanyl testing kits as a harm reduction tool for people at risk of an overdose, Bangor Daily News reported.

Departments in Augusta, Biddeford, Kennebunk, South Portland and Westbrook are already a part of the program.

Last year’s pilot of the One2One program found that 53% of people who received a test kit requested referrals for treatment or substance use disorder services, according to Allie Hunter, executive director of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative.

“Police are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic and have the greatest level of access to individuals at risk for overdose, and therefore are well positioned to provide lifesaving education and support,” Hunter said.

The kits will allow individuals to test substances for fentanyl and include information on treatment and recovery options.

Brunswick Police Chief Scott Stewart said distributing the test kits does not mean the department condones drug use, however, he feels departments need to address the opioid crisis in any way they can.

“Our ultimate job is to save lives. We’d be remiss if we didn’t take this opportunity to try to save someone’s life,” Stewart said.

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