Panel will address unmet needs fueling addition

Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition seeks community panelists

Posted:  Monday, March 12, 2018 - 8:45am

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.

Some actions have been taken in Maine statewide but Knox County is strikingly deficient in its response in almost every area of need.

The Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition (MCRC) is seeking partners to identify unmet needs and to begin implementing solutions in in Knox County within this year. MCRC will seek to create panels representing the following areas to reduce the rates of drug addiction and its consequences in mid-coast Maine:

Leadership from all levels of government and public and private organizations
To create the environment for positive change, build awareness of substance use as a public health problem and to help create solutions to ongoing problems.

• Prevention programs
Prevention research has developed effective community-based prevention programs that reduce substance use and delinquent behavior among youth. Research shows that for each dollar invested in research-based prevention programs, up to $10 is saved in treatment for alcohol or other substance misuse-related costs.

Schools represent one of the most effective channels for influencing youth substance use. Many highly effective evidence-based programs are available that provide a strong return on investment, both in the well-being of the children they reach and in reducing long-term societal costs. Interventions that target youth who have already initiated use of alcohol or drugs should also be implemented to prevent escalation of use. Our communities would benefit from addition of strong prevention programs.

• Treatment
Provide treatment and recovery supports.
Many individuals in our community lack regular access to the health care system. For many with substance use problems, schools and healthcare providers can provide an entry into treatment and support for ongoing recovery. Local medical practices and emergency departments can make referrals to community and school counselors for screening, brief counseling, and referral to more comprehensive treatment services. Schools and our communities can also help create a supportive environment that fosters recovery, something that is lacking currently.
Enhance training of health care professionals.
There is currently an unmet need to integrate substance use treatment with the local health care delivery system including addressing needs for education and training for providers in all health care roles and disciplines, including primary care doctors, nurses, specialty treatment providers, and prevention and recovery specialists.

• Recovery Support
There remains a huge need to create supportive environments and many pathways to enhance recovery for individuals and communities to meet recovery needs of many people in mid-coast Maine.

• Housing
Supportive, safe, and affordable housing, critically important for those entering recovery and sustaining long-term recovery, is lacking in mid-coast Maine.

• Employment
Stable and gainful employment needed to support those in recovery is relatively lacking in mid-coast Maine. Job-readiness training for those in recovery combined with job opportunities are needed in our communities.

• Judicial and Law Enforcement
Best practices to enable people with addiction to receive treatment rather than punishment are lacking in mid-coast Maine. Programs like problem-solving courts, law-enforcement assisted diversion, jail-based treatment and oversight are needed to help foster sustained recovery.

MCRC will reach out to organizations and individuals involved in, and responsible for, these unmet needs in our community to join in working panels to implement solutions as soon as feasible. If you are interested in learning more, or to join one or more panels, please contact or call 701-1182. Thank you.

Ira Mandel, MD, MPH is the Executive Director of the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition