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Michael Botticelli & Confronting Bangor’s Opiate Epidemic

Michael Botticelli is a big deal. He’s the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He’s going to be in Bangor this Wednesday night at Husson’s Gracie Theater. Best of all, he’s a recovering alcoholic. It’s unprecedented that we have people in power who actually understand addiction.

As we search for answers to widespread and growing problems like opiate addiction, we forget to use common sense. In the war on drugs, addicts have only been defined as part of the problem. Until now, the practicality of involving recovering addicts and alcoholics has eluded those who create policy. No one knows more about it than those who lived it, survived it, are overcoming it, and changing their lives for the better. Michael Botticelli is just such a person.

Community efforts hinge on the involvement of stakeholders. In the case of addiction, we are all stakeholders, it is only a matter of whether we recognize ourselves as such. The cost: emotionally and spiritually, in quality of life and in grief, is incalculable. All we can count objectively are dollars and bodies. The former we’re spending in the wrong places (most notably jails and prisons) and the latter continues to soar.

The solutions to reducing substance abuse and addiction are both short and long term, both free and costly. What needs to be dictated to those in power is what the role of government ought to be in solving a problem that affects us all. Education, prevention, and treatment have consistently been proven to be effective, yet we continue to support efforts that are not only unnecessarily punitive, they are also penny wise and pound foolish.

The only way we’ll make more then a dent in addiction is by combining grass roots with systemic approaches. Michael Botticelli is in a position to support everything that has been shown to work. Given the size and scope of Bangor’s drug problem, I hope to see Gracie theater packed.

Wednesday, October 8th 6pm-8:30pm for more information:

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