Hope, Help and Recovery
On Tuesday, August 16th, I had the pleasure of attending A Congressional Town Hall Meeting in Auburn hosted by Congressman Bruce Polliquin. As part of Operation Community SAFER (Supporting Area Families to Enable Recovery) the purpose of this meeting was to discuss the opioid epidemic in Maine, providing a place where the community could learn about prevention strategies, local treatment and recovery resources, so they can support their loved ones and community members with substance use disorder (the new term replacing “substance abuse”).
The Congressman’s meeting was filled with hope that there is help in Western Maine and recovery is possible, more so if we all work together. One gentleman discussed his familial battle with substance use disorder along with his own 22 years of recovery. There were people who presented information on prevention, signs, symptoms and statistics. There was a psychiatrist who discussed the damage that substance use does to our brains and walked us through the process of detox and the different treatment modalities available. The next presenter was an ER doctor at a local hospital discussing the quick choices that need to be made when someone who is overdosing enters the ER. He also discussed the process of how to keep the person who is in recovery on that path while treating them for a medical emergency. Another presenter, also a local doctor, discussed different ways to control pain through integrative medicine such as yoga, meditation, supplements, diet and many other “out of the box” ideas. The last 10 minutes of the meeting was dedicated to local businesses and groups who are out there locally spreading the message that there is help, there is hope, and there is recovery.
Individuals need to realize that those who suffer from substance use disorders did not wake up one day and say, “ I am going to be an addict starting today.” This is not a disease that people aspire to have. Those who become addicted to their substance of choice usually have underlying issues, such as pain, depression, anxiety, sexual abuse, trauma, mental health and domestic violence issues, that need to be addressed, along with the substance use disorder. These issues are usually things we hide from others and ourselves because we feel shame. The one important thing I have learned is that substance use disorder does not discriminate. There are children, adults, elderly, people of lower economical class, people of higher economical class, doctors, lawyers, and law enforcement members who are in active use, recovery, or have been affected by substance use disorder.
Being a presenter in the last 10 minutes of this Town Hall Meeting as a Board member of the Western Maine Addiction Recovery Initiative and talking about Project Save ME was an extremely eye opening and prideful moment. We have come so far in our community to help those with substance use disorders, with much more work to be done treating the whole person as well as helping to reduce the stigma around the issues of substance use disorder and mental health issues. If you would like to help our community further these efforts please join us for a Western Maine Addiction Recovery Initiative meeting on the 2nd Wednesday of every month. Next meeting is September 14th at The Crosstone Restaurant 1132 S Main St, Bryant Pond, ME at 6 pm. There is help, there is hope and there is recovery.
Jessica Abbott is a Program Coordinator at Healthy Oxford Hills, a project of Stephens Memorial Hospital. For supportive resources call Healthy Oxford Hills at 739-6222 or visit their website www.healthyoxfordhills.org
Reprinted with the permission of the Advertiser Democrat