Maine Program Teaches 'Angels' To Help Opiate Addicts On Recovery Journey

By Victoria Kim 11/18/15

More and more in law enforcement are seeing the benefits of treating addicts instead of jailing them.

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Volunteer training for a program to help opiate addicts navigate recovery kicked off this month in Augusta, Maine, the Portland Press Herald reports.

The innovative program, the likes of which has also popped up in the towns of Scarborough and Gloucester, Mass., this year, is designed for addicts who truly want help recovering, said Lt. Chris Massey of the Augusta Police Department.

“You come to the PD with drugs in your pocket, I’ve got to figure you’re near rock bottom, if not there already,” Lt. Massey told a group of trainees, or “angels.”

Under the program, a person with a drug problem can go to the police station for help, where they will be directed to the program and be provided a recovery coach and addiction treatment.

“Basically you’re there as a peer mentor, healing them with resources, setting goals and generally just supporting them,” said Roberta Rolfe, a trainee taking the course to be re-certified as a recovery coach. “It’s their recovery, and when they’re done, they’re done.”

According to the Maine Attorney General’s chief medical examiner, 105 people died from a drug overdose in Maine in the first half of 2015. Of those deaths, 37 were primarily attributable to heroin and 26 to fentanyl.

Volunteer training has begun, but the program itself is not yet available, according to Lt. Massey. The police department will make a formal announcement of the start date in due time, he said.

Among the trainees at the first session was former Augusta police officer Raymond Moinester. “If I can be part of the solution in a small way, that’s what I want to do,” he said.

Other trainees include people in recovery, like Shannon Hamilton, who has been in recovery for three years. “I got a lot of help when I was in recovery, and I want to give back and let people know recovery is possible, because it is,” she said.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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