WESTBROOK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Police chiefs of four different southern Maine cities met Thursday morning to announce a new program to help break the cycle of opioid use disorder.
Chiefs from Buxton, Gorham, Westbrook, and Windham announced the Westbrook Recovery Liaison Program Thursday morning at the Westbrook Public Safety building.
It is a state-funded program focused on helping participants meet their basic needs as they start the recovery process.
Chief Janine Roberts of Westbrook Police said the primary goals of helping them sustain long-term recovery and decreasing overall recidivism rates.
A Recovery Liaison from the Westbrook Police Department will partner with the Cumberland County Jail, the Westbrook Community Approach to Stopping Heroin (CASH) Coordinator, and representatives from Grace St. Services who will be hosting an opioid treatment group inside the jail on a weekly basis.
The liaison will work closely with front line police officers and community partners to identify participants.
Danielle Rideout, the liaison, used to struggle with substance use herself.
"I was somebody who was down and out. I was doing things I didn't want to do. Now I can show people that there's a way out," said Rideout. "It's heartbreaking I know how hopeless it can feel, how long you can feel, but I want to show people that there's a way to recover that people do make it."
The liaison will help participants identify individual recovery support needs, then work to connect the participants with the local resources to meet those needs, such as housing, food, clothing, counseling, mental health and medical services and more.
These services are the first step for people looking to stop using drugs.
Seth Blais is in recovery now, and spoke at Thursday's press conference.
"This disease has one goal, and that's to kill you. I was lucky enough to survive. There's a lot of people that I know personally that aren't so lucky because they can't find a solution early enough," said Blais.
People must be members of one of these four communities to receive the services. Blais said he wishes he had this program during his darkest days.
"It's hard as a son seeing the pain you cause your mother. It's so rewarding to be able to say that my mother has her son back," said Blais.
Westbrook Police Chief Janine Roberts said that although WRLP is not focused on getting participants into treatment, "we will work with all area treatment programs when openings are available. This includes medication assisted treatment programs offered by Grace St. Services and CAP Quality Care."
As part of the grant program, the Westbrook Police Department will be hosting a 30-hour Recovery Coach training presented by The Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery (MAAR) during the month of March. In addition to recruiting local community members to become Recovery Coaches, each police department and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office will send as least one officer to the training.
The officers are not expected to take over the full role of a Recovery Coach, according to Roberts. Instead, the goals are for the officers to absorb the information, incorporate the new knowledge into their daily interactions with those living with opioid use disorder, those who love them, and the recovery community, and to share key concepts and terminology with their co-workers and the community at large to further raising awareness of how we can all support our community members living with and recovering from opioid use disorder.
Here is the liaison's schedule:
Monday: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Westbrook Public Safety
Wednesday: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Gorham Public Safety
Thursday: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Windham Public Safety
Friday: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Buxton Town Hall