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Effective responses to an epidemic

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

For over ten years now politicians have been talking about addiction as though it were a new condition that no one knows how to respond to. The hand wringing, and perpetual committee meetings need to end. It’s time for common sense solutions:

Follow Maslow’s hierarchy: For people to not die, we have to get basic life needs met and access to medicines that keep us alive. That starts with Narcan, extends to prevention of communicable diseases, and treatment of existing conditions. Ideally, it ends with little more than a multivitamin daily, but preventing overdose deaths is priority number one. Problem: Narcan is $75 a dose and we need two doses on hand.

You know who gets it? Health Equity Alliance. They distribute thousands of needles weekly to prevent the spread of disease. They provide free medical care. Please join them this summer in fund raising for Narcan and distributing it to the individuals and families who most need it.

I dream of a world where we don’t hold bake sales to prevent unnecessary deaths.

Priority two: You know how gets it? Jericho Ministries of Orrington. In a perfect world, being a Christian means doing what Jesus would do. Every Monday night for over 7 years now, these folks are out among the homeless of Bangor providing food and basic life needs.

Now here’s how we make it simple: Jericho has got Monday night locked up. Who’s got Tuesday?

Priority Three: Shelter. If you live in a world where Hope House and Bangor Homeless Shelter are enough, lemme introduce you to reality. Meanwhile, go visit those sites and help them meet basic life needs.

Priority Four: Detox beds. Somehow the mythology endures that anyone who needs help can get it. Truth: medical detox beds that accept Medicaid & Medicare bleed money. It’s damn near impossible to get a detox bed in Maine. Far more people go through withdrawal in our jails and prisons than in medical facilities.

Priority Five: Medicaid expansion & wider availability of treatment of all kinds. We need all options on the table. Managed care has been eliminating long term rehabs systematically. We need more community-based options, especially in rural areas.

Priority Six & Seven: Housing and employment opportunities. You know what helps my brothers and sisters stay clean? Jobs and safe places to live. If you’re not sure whether people in recovery have great work ethics and flourish in response to second chances, call me. Northeast Workforce Development Board gets it.

Priority Eight: Educate yourself. Stigma is always a product of ignorance and it hurts not only those in active addiction but our families as well. Addiction is a disease and if you’re somehow unsure of that you’re in denial of medical facts. If you have a loved in in addiction or recovery, join us for BARN’s monthly Addiction in the Family Support Group and visit our friends in Nar Anon and Al Anon.

Priority Nine: You know who gets it? The Bangor Area Recovery Network. We’re a community resource for addiction recovery. We need at least two of these in every county in Maine. We’re grass roots and volunteer operated. If you want the greatest bang for your donation dollar, organizations like Barn are are opportunities because we help folks enter recovery and move from surviving to living.

Priority Ten: Get organized. Don’t tolerate leaders who whine about the “silo effect.” What we can do together eclipses what we can do individually.

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