U.S. drug czar to visit Bangor, talk about combating opiate addiction

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BANGOR — The top U.S. drug policy official will be in Bangor on Wednesday to talk about how the region can confront its opiate abuse epidemic.

Michael Botticelli, acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, is the keynote speaker for a town hall forum titled “Pain that Kills: Confronting Bangor’s Opiate Epidemic.” The forum begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, at the Gracie Theatre at Husson University. A reception will be held beforehand, starting at 6 p.m.

“I am so happy that Mr. Botticelli is coming to Bangor to share his expertise,” Bangor City Council Chairman Ben Sprague said in a news release for the city. “The challenges of addiction and the importance of recovery (is) on a lot of people’s minds in Bangor, and I encourage people to attend so we can have a community dialogue.”

Bangor recently convened a task force to take a deeper look into addiction and the issues surrounding it, ranging from crime and punishment to treatment and recovery. That group invited Botticelli to come and share his expertise.

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Politicians, municipal leaders and police officials from towns in the region are expected to attend. Members of the public also are encouraged to attend to learn and ask questions.

“The key to success in dealing with this issue is getting people involved in this process,” Brewer Mayor Jerry Goss said in a news release.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy advises the president on drug-control issues and coordinates drug-control activities across federal government agencies.

The Bangor task force was created in response to a 180-day moratorium passed by the City Council in November 2013 that temporarily prohibited the expansion of suboxone treatment facilities in Bangor. Treatment officials were critical of the decision, arguing it only would prevent addicts from being able to seek help. But the moratorium sparked a conversation that prompted the formation of the committee.

You can catch up with the discussions of the Bangor region drug policy task force by viewing meeting videos on the city’s website at bangormaine.gov.

Next month, the group will present its findings and a list of recommended steps, ranging from local ordinance changes and education efforts to statewide legislation, to the Community Health Leadership Board.

Sponsors for Wednesday’s forum include the Bangor Daily News and the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce. The primary sponsor is the Bangor Region Public Health Advisory Board.

The event will start with the debut of a video produced by the BDN, followed by Botticelli’s address and a Q-and-A session.

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