(NEWS CENTER) — The cities of Biddeford and Saco are taking new steps to combat opioid addiction both in the twin cities and in York County.
They've hired a new outreach coordinator who plans to help one addict at a time. Maegan Lambert-Irish says she's ready for the job — she will be the first line of defense for any addict or their family or friends.
What she will do is to help find, then lead them to the right path to treatment, recovery and support services.
"If anybody comes to me for substance use and they want treatment, they can get it without getting in trouble by me," Lambert-Irish said. After all, she is not a police officer. Her new job in Biddeford and Saco is to find the "right" treatment for addicts.
“We take an individual approach to getting people treatment," Lambert-Irish said. "We assess them individually, finding out what they need for treatment."
And in the 40 days since launching, the program – although in its infancy – appears to be working. So far, she's contacted 35 addicted individuals, seen 15 and advised five addicts for treatment.
At the Tuesday afternoon announcement, Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant said that the national opioid crisis affects Mainers where they are and that the availability of treatment beds, the cataloging of existing resources and enhanced outreach within Biddeford and Saco are “important tools to assist those individuals and families struggling with the pain of substance abuse in their daily lives.”
Mayor Casavant said Lambert-Irish’s position will help bridge what is missing in the community: "This initiative is founded on the premise that detoxification happens behind walls but recovery occurs in the community."
It's a new approach to a problem that has permeated every pocket in every Maine community — an opioid epidemic that no one knows exactly how to contain.
This Saco-Biddeford Opiate Outreach Initiative could be an excellent start, and Maegan Lambert-Irish said she is ready for success.
"We try to keep them in their own environment because they succeed when they are getting treatment and help from people around them and good support," she said.
Lambert-Irish is urging anyone with an addiction or anyone with a loved one who is an addict to please contact her. "It all starts with just a conversation, it doesn't have to be 'I'm ready for treatment today,' but it's a start to a conversation about what could be possible."
The new coordinator position is being paid for by the cities of Biddeford, Saco and a state grant.
Lambert-Irish is reporting the progress of the new program to both cities every two weeks.
She is giving out her personal cell phone number for people to call her directly for help — families, friends of addicts and addicts themselves. That number is (207) 710-1785.
You can also reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.