Letter to the editor: Preparing for our ‘D-Day’ in the war against addiction
It is time for our community to get organized and to take local action on the war against drug addiction. By all measurements, this terrible problem continues to worsen and is affecting thousands of people in mid-coast Maine. While we do have some excellent leaders representing our community, it is also clear that many local, state and federal leaders are not effectively leading us out of this problem.
As with any important social movement, change will need to come from local residents who will choose to take a stance for change. This is our time.
Two weeks ago, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills released the latest report about drug overdose deaths in Maine. The death rate continues to climb relentlessly, up another 11 percent to 418 deaths from 2016 to 2017. Over the past two years, the overdose death rate went up by 50 percent, clearly showing that this epidemic continues to spiral out of control.
In America, drug overdose deaths are now the No. 1 cause of death for people under age 50 – 65,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2016. For the first time in the past 50 years, the average life expectancy for American’s has fallen two years in a row, due to the opioid epidemic.
In Knox County 10 percent of babies born are born from mothers addicted to opiates, 25 percent of teens use drugs regularly, 90 percent of inmates of the Knox County jail are addicted to drugs and thousands of residents struggle with addiction and related poverty with very little support and help.
Elves will not come in the night to solve our addiction problems. While our government is starting to address this issue, too little is being done, and too late, to slow this epidemic. If we don’t get organized and begin to take local action, this will bankrupt our community. Already, the cost to each of us is thousands of dollars a year which would be much better spent on treatment rather than in picking up the many broken pieces of untreated disease.
The Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition plans to coordinate a series of meetings for mid-coast Maine residents to become educated, provide input and to get involved in solutions. For now, please mark your calendars to plan to attend one of these two meetings to join together to make battle plans to fight this terrible plague on our community:
Wednesday, April 18 – 4 p.m. at the Oceanside High School Auditorium
Wednesday, April 18 – 7 p.m. at the Camden Regional High School Auditorium
Please stay tuned for more information about these meetings and plans to energize our community to action. For questions, please contact us at 701-1182 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Ira Mandel is head of the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition