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The ongoing conversation in Dover-Foxcroft about a proposed opioid addiction treatment center that would be located downtown is similar to other debates across the state. Too often, communities are reluctant to move forward with projects that can help meet an identified need, with opponents claiming that the projects do not fit their potential environment.
It’s a common refrain that goes something like this: “I support solving this problem, but not here.” It’s a recipe for unresolved issues across the state.
As we have tried to make clear, we hope that Mainers will recognize that people in recovery are already part of their communities and resist the idea that these services are necessary but not appropriate for their downtown or neighborhood.
We can understand why local residents might be hesitant to take advice from a Bangor newspaper about where their town should go. But we hope they will at least listen to their fellow community members and municipal officials, who have made compelling arguments about the need for recovery services in their area.
“The reality is that this is a societal problem that we are dealing with,” Police Chief Matt Grant said at a May 5 planning council meeting. “Resources must be made available.”
Maine knows record overdose deathsincluding 11 suspected or confirmed in Piscataquis County between January and December 2021. By embracing recovery services and the people who depend on them, communities can choose to help save lives.
A concerned local resident who spoke at the Dover-Foxcroft planning council discussion mentioned the proposed clinic’s proximity to a church. They were concerned that the children at the summer Bible camp were playing outside and being exposed to the people at the clinic. With respect, we think this overlooks the fact that people in recovery who need these services already live and work in the city. These are not unknown outside threats. They are neighbors with a medical need.
Michelle Fagan explained it eloquently at the planning board meeting. Fagan, as a youth services librarian at the Thompson Free Library, works with children whose parents are recovering.
“I think the stigma behind all of this is really, really harsh,” she said. “In a community that has sometimes been known to say, ‘Not in my backyard’ – it’s in your backyard, it’s walking down Main Street, it’s at McDonald’s, it’s at the library. We have to help these people. »
Fagan said it better than us. Hope his fellow community members are listening.