CARIBOU, Maine — A group spawned from a town hall-style meeting in May to discuss the opioid epidemic and drug overdoses in Aroostook County has a new name.
At a recent meeting the group chose a name for their initiative and going forward it will be called Recovery Aroostook.
The initial meeting drew some 120 community residents, who heard some individuals’ personal stories about their journey to recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. Inspired by that session, a group of about 30 concerned citizens has been meeting throughout the summer to identify key gaps in recovery services and to mount an ongoing effort to fill in the gaps.
Bill Flagg, director of community relations and development at Cary Medical Center, said the work in recent months has been impressive.
“Cary Medical Center made a commitment to this group that we would host meetings every Wednesday night at the hospital to develop an action plan to address the epidemic of addiction here in our community,” said Flagg, who has been helping to facilitate the meetings along with Jan Jackson of Cary Community Outreach.
“The folks associated with ‘Recovery Aroostook’ have been incredibly dedicated to the effort. Many have been to every meeting, even during the hot weather in our short summer season,” Flagg said. “They are definitely dedicated and passionate about the issue and they are now taking on the leadership needed to sustain the work.”
The initial effort, including the Town Hall Meeting, was made possible by a $5,000 grant from the District Coordinating Council. The DCC has since been eliminated as a result of budget cuts to Maine’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ronni Bosse, who operates a coffee business in Fort Fairfield, is the newly appointed chair of Recovery Aroostook.
“All of us are doing this work on our own time as volunteers,” she said. “We have members who are in recovery, some for a number of years and others who are continuing their recovery journey. We also have representatives from health care, the faith-based community, mental health counselors, families who have lost loved ones to addiction — it is a very diverse group.
“We want to do all we can to reach out to anyone individual or family struggling with addiction,” she added. “We want to prevent overdoses and deaths by improving services and increasing resources.”
The group is now defining its structure, completing work on mission and vision statements and wants to open a recovery center and sobriety house in Caribou. Jan Jackson, outreach worker at Cary, said Recovery Aroostook’s work will save lives.
“People have said that had this effort been in place a year ago, their loved one would not have died,” said Jackson, who also works with Cary’s Drug Free Communities Grant. “Every day we read in the obituaries about another young person losing his or her life to this tragic and frightening epidemic. That is what makes this work so urgent and important and we are very fortunate that we have a group of individuals willing to stand up and call for more support to reverse this trend”.
International Overdose Awareness Day is Thursday, Aug. 31, and Recovery Aroostook is planning a candlelight vigil in memory of those who have died as a result of overdose. The event will be held near the Caribou Cinema at the completion Thursdays on Sweden that night.
Recovery Aroostook meets every Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. in the Chan Center at Cary. The meetings are scheduled for one hour and are open to anyone interested.
For more information contact Cary’s Community Relations Office at 498-1112 or by email at email@example.com.