Midcoast Has High Rate of Drug & Alcohol Abuse, But Help Is Still Hard to Find – Freepress Online

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Even though alcohol is the most abused substance in Maine, opioid and other prescription drug abuse is a growing concern; 185 Mainers died of a drug overdose in the first six months of this year, according to the Maine Attorney General’s office. In 2016, the total number of deaths was 376.

A state-level opiate task force will make its recommendations to the state legislature, probably by next week, according to a legislative analyst working on the task force report. The final recommendations will likely include specific requests for state legislative action on education, law enforcement, and treatment.

How that will translate into help on the ground is hard to know. One thing was clear at the last task force meeting: there was not enough support among members to recommend a needle exchange program that advocates say has the potential to slow a costly and growing public health problem in Maine: hepatitis C and HIV infections spread by sharing needles.

The midcoast is one of the state hot spots for drug abuse; 18- to 34-year-olds in the midcoast area had one of the highest prescription drug abuse rates in the state (8.1 percent), according to DHHS, and adult males in the midcoast are twice as likely as females in the area to abuse prescription drugs during their lifetime.

Most started out using highly addictive opioid drugs like Vicodin or Percocet that were prescribed by a clinician for pain. Others were given prescription painkillers by a family member or friend who had leftovers from legal prescriptions, according to clinicians who treat addiction.

Use of these highly addictive prescription drugs has led some to use cheaper, stronger and more widely available street drugs like heroin and Fentanyl. Heroin has the unfortunate side effect of causing users to stop breathing when they take too much and, when combined with Fentanyl, is even more likely to be deadly.

Those wanting to break the cycle of addiction have few options in the midcoast if they don’t have MaineCare or private insurance. Even with insurance, a Google search for treatment options won’t be of much help. The information is outdated and most of the listings are inaccurate.

The good news is that some midcoast programs, like ARC in Damariscotta and Brunswick and Seaport Community Health Center in Belfast, are available and accepting new patients.

For those in crisis, dialing 211 will get a person on the other end of the telephone who can provide immediate help. 211 is available 24 hours a day, year-round, by telephone. 211.org reported to the Maine legislative Opioid Task Force on Tuesday, November 28, that they are working on being more available on the internet, through texts, social media, and on live chats.

For those who are unsure if they or someone they know has crossed the line from recreational use of alcohol or prescribed drugs into substance abuse and possible addiction, this checklist offers basic guidance: www.ncadd-sfv.org/symptoms.html.

More information on understanding addiction and where to find treatment in Maine is available at:

The Free Press contacted the following midcoast services to verify payment, location, and contact information. The Free Press does not endorse services listed or rate them for quality or cost, nor is the list meant to be comprehensive.

Metro Treatment Center, 166 New County Road, Rockland; newseason.com/clinics/rockland-metro-treatment-center, rockland.me@cmglp.com, 596-0312, 407-351-7080; Offers outpatient medication treatment for opioid-addicted adults and individuals, group and family counseling. Self-pay only. Fees may be adjusted on a sliding scale.

Sweetser (Rockland, Belfast, Damariscotta); www.sweetser.org, PromiseLine 800-434-3000/Intentional Warm Line 866-771-9276; Sweetser offers behavioral/mental health services for children and adults along the Maine coast from Belfast to Saco, including crisis stabilization; individual, group, couple, and family therapy; same-day services; and telephone support. They offer outpatient and residential options for youth and adults at some locations, and work with addicted youth who are resistant to treatment. Sweetser offers housing assistance, peer services, crisis respite for family members and caregivers, and crisis counseling and helps clients access community health care and other social services. Accepts most insurance. Sliding-scale fees are not available.

The Recovery Coach Program, Lincoln Street Center, Rockland; coastalrecoverycommunitycenter.org, knoxcountyrc@gmail.com, 691-3697; The Recovery Coach Program at the Coastal Recovery Community Center (RCCC) was developed to help people find the resources they need to recover from addiction. A recovery coach is a trained peer who has direct experience with substance abuse and helps connect those seeking help with community-based support and available programs. However, the list of resources they currently offer from the Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery is inaccurate and out of date. RCCC also offers SMART Recovery meetings, an abstinence-oriented approach emphasizing group peer support. Open evenings. Free.

Maine Behavioral Healthcare, 12 Union Street, Rockland; mainehealth.org/maine-behavioral-healthcare, info_recovery@mainebehavioralhealthcare.org, 701-4400; Part of MaineHealth, Maine Behavioral Healthcare offers outpatient and non-residential rehabilitation services to adults and youth with mental and substance abuse disorders. Offers medication-assisted withdrawal from opiates. They also work with DUI / DWI offenders. Choice Skyward in Rockland emphasizes treating women and veterans. Accepts payment through MaineCare or private insurance.

Eureka Counseling Services, 474 Main Street, Rockland; eurekacounseling.net, 594-4006; Eureka Counseling Services offers outpatient services to residents of Knox and Lincoln counties for alcohol and drug addiction. Also offers services to families. Accepts most major insurances and MaineCare and may offer a sliding-scale fee for those paying cash.

Addiction Resource Center (Damariscotta and Brunswick); www.midcoasthealth.com/addiction, 1-800-244-3805; ARC is integrated with Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick. They offer comprehensive health care services, including intensive outpatient medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, referrals, and coordinated care for teens, parents and adults. Accepts patients regardless of their ability to pay. Accepts major insurances, MaineCare and may offer a sliding fee for cash.

Groups: Recover Together, 91 Camden Street, Rockland; joingroups.com/maine/, 1-800-683-8313; A company that has facilities in several states, Groups: Recover Together provides outpatient services for opiate-addicted adults, group therapy and medication-assisted treatment (Suboxone). Accepts some insurance, including Anthem, and will be accepting Aetna insurance before the end of the year.

PARC Program, 6 Glen Cove Drive, Rockport; 921-8390, 596-8390; The Psychiatric and Addiction Recovery Center (PARC) offers acute rehabilitation treatment for drug and alcohol addiction at Pen Bay Medical Center. It is managed by Maine Behavioral Healthcare. Offers detoxification and medication-assisted addiction treatment for adults, peer-led support groups and help getting access to health care and social services. PARC accepts private insurance and MaineCare and will discuss payment options for others.

Ira Mandel MD, 27 Washington St., Camden; 370-9556; Provides a range of services, including medication-assisted treatment for opiate-addicted patients. Mandel is a passionate advocate of providing more and better treatment options for people with substance abuse and their families, regardless of income or ability to pay. Accepts major insurance and works with individuals on payment options. Mandel also established the Midcoast Recovery Coalition. See www.midcoastrecovery.org.

Seaport Community Health Center, 53 Schoodic Drive, Belfast; seaport.pchc.com/services, 338-6900; SCHC has a well-established treatment program for patients addicted to heroin and prescription pain medication. Applicants must be screened for the appropriateness of outpatient therapy and must also agree to Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) education and remain drug-free (including marijuana) for the duration of treatment. Uses opioid substitution drugs until patients can stabilize and taper off medications. Most patients will be treated in groups. Accepts private insurance and MaineCare.

Searsport Counseling Associates, Belfast; www.searsportcounseling.com, 338-9145; Provides outpatient counseling services for families, couples, and youth, including substance abuse services and short-term crisis intervention and services for children and teens dealing with loss, depression, or self-esteem. Accepts MaineCare and private insurance. Will negotiate with cash patients. Has a satellite office in Unity.

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