PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine) – People in Maine’s recovery community are reflecting on another spike in overdose deaths in 2017.
Maine saw 418 people die from overdose deaths in 2017, according to numbers newly released by the Maine Attorney General’s office.
Andrew Kiezulas is 6 years sober. Bryn Gallagher is 5 years sober. Jesse Harvey is 2.5 years sober. They are all friends, and have dedicated their lives to making recovery accessible for more Mainers.
All three are members of Young People in Recovery.
They say when they learned of 418 overdose deaths in 2017, an 11 percent increase, they were heartbroken, but not surprised. “Unfortunately the norm now is that someone overdosed,” Kiezulas said. “Or another parent saying they will never hold their child again.” Gallagher added, “You scroll through Facebook and it’s an encouraging day when you don’t see a post about someone having died.”
They say more work needs to be done. “You have doors that are closing, offices that are closing, resources that are drying up, finding tools that are drying up, and there are Mainers dying,” Kiezulas said. “We are not doing enough,” Gallagher added. “It feels like we are doing a lot…[but] the efforts need to continue to grow because the number continues to grow.
For Harvey, Kiezulas, and Gallagher’s advice and opinions on policy changes, Medicaid expansion, naloxone access, and work at the State House, watch the video for a full interview.