The Maine Millennial: Maine should treat, not punish, drug addiction

If there’s one factor everybody ought to have the ability to agree on, it’s that the Struggle on Medication will not be working.

Any method you take a look at it, our present technique of coping with the issue of chemical substance dependancy will not be working. Final yr was the worst on record for overdose deaths in Maine, and that’s after a long time of making an attempt to arrest our method into good well being. 5 hundred and two overdose deaths in 2020. 5 hundred and two. That will be like the complete city of Cutler wiped off the map and gone endlessly. Everybody from cops to abolitionists agrees that we have to do one thing in a different way.

However what precisely that one thing ought to be is the place the conflicts come up.

I’m in favor of L.D. 967, a invoice sponsored by state Rep. Anne Perry, D-Calais, a household nurse practitioner. It would change possession of unlawful medicine from a prison violation to a civil one, and require both a $100 superb or referral to an evidence-based drug remedy program. Promoting or distributing medicine would nonetheless be a criminal offense, however merely having, for instance, heroin in your particular person wouldn’t lead to getting arrested and imprisoned. It’s a easy step, however a daring one.

Gov. Mills is in opposition to this invoice. I’m not shocked – she spent a long time as a prosecutor, and when you can undoubtedly educate an previous canine new methods, it often takes some time. I like Janet Mills and I agree together with her on numerous issues. I hope she modifies her thoughts. Maine is a state that’s immune to sudden adjustments; we don’t activate a dime. But when we wish to put our cash the place our mouth is, not giving Mainers affected by psychological and bodily sickness a prison report could be an excellent place to begin.

Individuals like black-and-white morality; it’s one of many causes superhero motion pictures are so well-liked. If one thing is authorized, then it’s good; whether it is unlawful, then it’s dangerous. Habit complicates these narratives. Chemical substances are labeled as “unlawful” and “authorized” based mostly on various levels of arbitrariness, after which we place ethical values on them. Take marijuana – unlawful most locations till very lately, despite the fact that no person has ever died of a marijuana overdose.

However alcohol? You should purchase it on the gasoline station and, in line with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is both completely or partially accountable for 261 deaths per day on this nation. (That will be like the complete inhabitants of the city of Medford.)

Getting and remaining sober is, to this point, the hardest factor I’ve ever completed. Going to jail wouldn’t have helped me keep sober. Having a prison report, which may simply tank future employment prospects, wouldn’t have helped me keep sober. However I had the nice luck to finish up hooked on a authorized substance. Cops usually gained’t arrest you for having a few nips of Fireball in your purse. However for somebody with a predisposition to dependancy – somebody like me – all it could have taken for me to finish up with heroin in my purse could be the unsuitable prescription capsule on the unsuitable time.

It’s exhausting to get them to confess it, even to themselves, however folks typically consider me as one among “the nice ones.” A “good addict.” Partly, that is due to my writing skills (which aren’t too shabby, if I do say so myself) – I feel I do an excellent job of speaking simply how exhausting it’s to battle with dependancy and the way a lot work it takes to keep up sobriety.

And should you’ve learn my column for greater than every week or two, you’ve in all probability gotten an excellent view of assorted components of my life, not simply the worst half. You’re extra more likely to see me as a complete and sophisticated human being. My solely hope in writing about my points with dependancy is that individuals will take among the empathy they really feel towards me and apply it to others who’re struggling, and who don’t have the blessing of a newspaper column and a knack with the written phrase. There are not any good addicts or dangerous addicts. There are solely addicts.

In two weeks, on June 1, I’ll have a good time my third year of sobriety. I think I’ll obtain congratulations on the accomplishment. Whereas I’m pleased with what I’ve completed for myself, the trouble is, and stays, a group effort; and in lieu of congratulations, please take into account writing to your state consultant and senator and to Gov. Mills and ask them to help passing L.D. 967.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She could be contacted at:
[email protected]
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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