PORTLAND, Maine — It was a day of remembrance and raising awareness around Maine during International Overdose Awareness Day. Dozens of folks gathered at Congress Square Park in Portland to remember loved ones or friends who died by drug overdose.
“Addiction is a medical condition, anybody could be affected by addiction," Kerri Barton, the interim program coordinator for the Portland Public Health Division and the organizer of the event, said.
Speakers took turns at the microphone sharing their own experience with addiction and recovery, and reflected on memories of losing a loved one. In July, the Office of the Maine Attorney General reported 52 overdose deaths among 887 total reported overdoses that month.
Commander Scott Pelletier of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency has been in law enforcement for more than two decades. He said people haven't changed over the years, but the opportunity and availability of drugs have.
“Fentanyl seems to be showing up in every kind of drug," Pelletier said. “There are no economic or social walls up that it will affect everyone, and it does".
Fentanyl is a lethal drug that sometimes is cut into or mixed with other drugs that users are buying without knowing what the pill or powder contains.
“They assume that pill, who they’re buying it from got it from a prescription that was done in an FDA laboratory. That’s not the case now," Pelletier said. “It’s extremely dangerous to buy any illicit drug on the street.”
At the public and open event in Portland, Barton said naloxone was free and available for those who wanted it.
“Make sure you’re prepared to respond to an overdose in case they have one, have a plan in place, and have that naloxone ready," she said.
One speaker at Tuesday's event said the opioid crisis is an epidemic and needs to be treated as such.
The following is a list of resources available to people who are battling substance addiction:
- If you have questions about treatment options, mental health, or counseling services in Bangor, you can call, text, or email the OPTIONS liason at 207-659-1857 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
- For support during a mental health crisis contact Maine's 24-hour hotline at 1-888-568-1112.
- For free syringes, narcan, fentanyl test strips, harm reduction services, training, and case management you can call 207-990-3626 or email email@example.com
- For overdoses cal 911 and administer nalozone if you have it, also stay with the person until help arrives.
- To explore recovery treatment options call the PCHC Bridge Clinic at 207-404-8100. Ext: 2389.
- For peer recovery support and coaches call the BARN at 207-561-9444 or the Together Place at 207-941-2897.
- For statewide resources visit this website.