CARIBOU, Maine — In pictures, TJ Poitraw smiles kindly into the digicam. His mom, Renee Fulton, stated he was the variety of guy who was always attempting to make people today laugh, generally striving to support other people today get better.
Poitraw was in recovery and just 26 when he died of an overdose a few months in the past. He had been dwelling in Vermont and doing work at Adult & Teenager Challenge — a religion-primarily based restoration business — and was only again in Caribou quickly when he died.
Maine is on track to have its deadliest year of the opioid epidemic in 2021 — an regular of 51 people are dying each individual thirty day period from overdoses. Due to the fact January, 16 men and women have died of an overdose in Aroostook County, just 1 significantly less person than in the whole 2020 calendar year.
Poitraw was amongst individuals honored at a vigil on Overdose Consciousness Day on Tuesday in downtown Caribou. His smile beamed out from pictures glued to paper lanterns that lined Most important Street in which it crosses Caribou Stream.
“Even on the working day he died he was even now achieving out to persons and making an attempt to aid men and women with their addiction,” Fulton claimed. “People don’t care if you are sober, they’ll nevertheless supply it to you. Ultimately he produced the choice to use, but habit is a little something that’s genuinely pretty difficult to conquer.”
Households of overdose victims and people in restoration say stigma and a deficiency of methods are maintaining individuals with material use ailment in The County susceptible to relapse and overdose.
“We will need so a great deal aid in this article,” Fulton explained. “I feel if they weren’t so worried about going to jail far more people today would access out for assistance.”
Whilst some resources — restoration homes, for instance — are becoming designed in the location, many folks battling with their addiction have to go away their houses and assistance units powering to seek out out support. But keeping in northern Maine, or even coming again after, can be unsafe if there aren’t adequate sources to preserve folks on the route to recovery.
The County has no detoxing facility, and no extensive-time period dwelling solutions for individuals with addictions outside the house of Caribou.
Roland Belanger has been in recovery for decades and was shocked at how few Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous conferences there are in Aroostook County — he moved to Caribou from New Hampshire in June. Considering the fact that then, he’s driven to Ellsworth, numerous hrs both equally approaches, for a assembly.
When Roads to Recovery — which organized the vigil on Tuesday together with Recovery Aroostook and Aroostook Psychological Overall health Centre — has meetings, Belanger explained he would like to see much more of them throughout the county, and in neutral spaces like churches.
He’s approached the two Van Buren and Limestone to counsel utilizing some of their city-owned abandoned properties to open up up facilities to assistance persons with substance use ailment.
Belanger was at the vigil to honor a household friend, 20-year-outdated Malcolm Allen who died of an overdose in Bath at the close of July. As substantially as he tries to feel positively, Belanger just cannot shake the emotion that folks are dying youthful and young from overdoses.
“Everybody is familiar with someone that died from prescription drugs or liquor,” Belanger reported. “As far as I’m involved, all people has an habit. The stigma is we really don’t communicate about it and we have bought to begin chatting about it.”
This was Caribou’s fifth time taking part in Overdose Consciousness Day. After placing up the lanterns on Major Street, a small team bowed their heads in a minute of silence ahead of dispersing.
Jan Jackson, a consultant from Restoration Aroostook and Cary Medical Center, explained that modest as they may well be, functions like this are vital in elevating consciousness — which will be key if The County is heading to make any development in the struggle versus the material use disorder epidemic. It will choose widespread support in the group to fund the facilities and therapies essential, she said.
“It’s not just the Narcan, it is not just the naloxone that can retain men and women from dying. We all can,” Jackson reported. “We as a community all have to do that.”