A Plea for Help from Ground Zero

A Plea for Help from Ground Zero 
Starting today, the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition will offer anyone with addiction in Knox County the help they need in getting treatment and whatever other support they need.  This column is a direct appeal to the public to lend whatever assistance possible to help this kind, struggling family get on the road to self-sufficiency. 
Susan* came from a good, loving Maine family in the mid-coast area and seemed destined to thrive and succeed in our community until a series of events changed her life forever.   
As a normal teenager, she was very involved with her church and had been doing very well in school.  She helped her family haul for lobsters from a young age until, one day, she suffered a severe injury on the boat leading to constant pain ever since despite seeing many doctors.  Her first doctor put her on high dose oxycodone until he abruptly cut her off after more than 6 months of treatment.  Unable to find anyone else to treat her, she enrolled in a methadone treatment program to control her pain and get her life on track by enrolling in college.  She planned to specialize in "health and human services” by becoming a drug treatment counselor.  
Half way through her program, however, she became pregnant and missed many classes due to pregnancy complications.  Ultimately, she had to drop out when her financial aid was stopped due to her difficulty attending all of her courses. 
Since that time, she had another child and successfully switched to Suboxone as a better alternative to methadone which began to impair her functioning, at one point causing her to total her car driving home after receiving her daily dose of methadone.  
Her life then seemed to stabilize until she was unable to get treatment for her decaying teeth (a common problem of people with addiction).  Out of desperation and no one willing to help her, she resorted to obtaining something that briefly killed the pain but caused her to be jailed for several months when caught by the police.  When she was released from jail, the state took away custody of her two daughters and she has been fighting as hard as she can to get them back.   
My practice is a kind of a "ground zero” where desperate souls have hit bottom and are fighting to get their lives back.  On most days when I see patients, I hear so many stories, each sadder and more tragic than the last.  Now Susan is also a patient of mine, trying to get her life back, trying to be a model patient, keeping all of her appointments to see me, taking her Suboxone exactly as prescribed, keeping all of her counseling appointments and is passing all of her urine drug tests.  She is trying as hard as she can to do the right thing. Unfortunately, she and her partner, James* who I also treat, do not have any health insurance and cannot afford to pay for their treatment.  I am currently providing care to both of them for free.  
Their biggest problem, though, is that they cannot afford a better place to live than a house full of drug users, openly using drugs in front of them.  Both are trying hard to stay sober and to better themselves.  It is very hard to do that where they live.   
James’ temporary jobs and Susan’s housekeeping jobs are low paying and have no benefits. Both lost their licenses due to unpaid fines due to relatively minor crimes they committed due to their drug addiction – a condition that "hijacks” the brain leading affected people to perform desperate acts, something they would never otherwise do, and which in other countries would not be punished as a crime but would be a recognized part of their disorder – something that would be treated medically instead. 
While Susan is usually able to walk to her jobs, James often has to ride his bicycle up to 3 hours each way every day.  He is chronically exhausted and often barely able to work.  The fines they both would have to pay are about $2000 each before they could get their driver’s licenses back.  And then they would need to find a car. 
The state informed Susan that she could have her children back if she found a safer place for her children to live than a home full of drug users.  She and James feel they could afford a higher rent now that they are both working but couldn’t afford to pay the "first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit” (likely to be about $3000 in total). 
 Last month, Susan informed me that she just found out that she was pregnant with her third child who she hoped would start life on more solid footing – in a safe, loved and secure environment.  
I am sure you are aware of many heart-wrenching poverty related stories affecting many people have in our community, particularly in the face of drug addiction.  Just like Susan, this could have happened to any one of us, but for the grace of God. 
I've been thinking for some time that we need to do more to help these poor souls.  So, starting today, the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition (MCRC) will begin to post stories, anonymous stories (changing enough details to make them unidentifiable even to friends and family), in the Free Press, on the MCRC website and MCRC email lists, while asking for a specific amount of funding for a specific length of time.  MCRC assures that proper vetting of need is done and that funds would not go directly to the individuals or families but would be paid directly to landlords, pharmacies, auto repair garages, etc. as appropriate to help them take SIGNIFICANT steps to self-sufficiency.  Also, in all cases, every other option for help will be exhausted first – which it has been in this case.
We seek your help to allow Susan and James move to another home without exposure to drug users (a need of $2,000 towards first month’s rent and security deposit – they will pay the last month’s rent and they feel they can manage rent thereafter).  Also, MCRC is seeking support to help pay off either James’ or Susan’s fines so at least one of them can get their driver’s license back to drive them both to their jobs, to doctors’ visits and to stores to meet their basic life needs (a need of another $2,000).  They will also need to get a vehicle that can pass inspection (donation of a reasonably operating automobile would be appreciated).  With this help, this kind family can find their way to self-sufficiency.  Please help them with this "hand up”. 
MCRC will be the fiscal intermediary assuring the integrity of charitable gifts and assuring all payments would be made directly to landlords and state institutions responsible for paying down fines.  The families in need would receive no payments whatsoever from MCRC.  As a 501c3 organization, all donations will be tax deductible.  If you want to help, if you can help, please mail your check to: MCRC, 91 Camden Street, suite 203, Rockland, ME 04841. You may also visit our website to donate via PayPal with a credit card (www.midcoastrecovery.org). Please write on your check or in the PayPal payment page "special instructions” that your donation is for "Helping Families Succeed." No amount is too small.   For questions, please call us at 207-701-1182.  Thank you so much.
 * Names changed to protect privacy

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Mailing Address:
Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition
  411 Main Street, Suite 205
Rockland, ME  04841
phone:  207.701.1182   

"A Healthy Community is Stronger than any Drug"
411 Main Street | Suite 205
Rockland | Maine