Bangor leaders & residents discuss how to tackle opiate epidemic

Bangor leaders & residents discuss how to tackle opiate epidemic

More than one hundred people participated in the Opiate & Heroin Forum and Listening Session held at the University of Augusta’s Bangor campus to discuss the growing opiate epidemic and share suggestions on Wednesday.

The session focused on topics like lack of treatment options for individuals struggling with opiate and heroin addiction, financial and other barriers to drug addicts’ ability to recover, and a need for better-than-jail approaches to addiction.

Patty Hamilton, health director for the city, noted that the Bangor region has been struggling with the drug addiction problem for the last many years. He pointed out that nearly 80 per cent of those individuals who start with addiction with the use of legal prescriptions.

Robert Fickett, who is recovering after more than a decade of addiction to opiates, thanked the Bangor Area Recovery Network for helping him in overcoming the addiction. Noting the stigma around addiction, he stressed that the pathway to addiction starts with legal prescriptions.

Speaking on the topic, Fickett said, “The pathway to addiction doesn’t start in a dirty back room. It starts in doctor’s offices, dentist chairs, emergency rooms and Grandma’s medicine cabinet … I think there are solutions we can offer people besides a jail cell.”

Penobscot Community Health Care’s Dr. Noah Nesin also noted that professionals are partly to blame for the current situation of opiate epidemic. He pointed out that a whopping 80 million opioid pills were prescribed in Maine alone in 2014.

According to official records, 272 people died from drug overdoses during 2015, up 31 per cent from the figure recorded in 2014. More than half of those deaths were linked to heroin, fentanyl or a combination of the two drugs.

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