PARIS — C.N. Brown fuel and heating oil company has teamed up with the Western Maine Addiction Task Force to employ recovering drug addicts who complete the ANGEL program.

Paris interim Police Chief Jeff Lange, who created the task force and spearheaded the effort to bring the Gloucester, Mass., program to Western Maine, hopes such programs will bolster addicts’ recovery.

“We know the two major hurdles for addicts and individuals involved in crime are housing and employment,” Lange said. Without these opportunities, addicts “go back into that vicious cycle again,” he said.

The ANGEL program gives addicts — not drug traffickers — amnesty if they enter a police station and hand over their drugs and/or paraphernalia. They are immediately teamed up with an “angel,” or volunteer, and brought to counseling and other recovery-based programs. Their angel is part of the support system during recovery.

C.N. Brown is based in South Paris and owns and operates about 80 Big Apple convenience stores, 30 heating oil offices and 15 service stations, and supplies over 200 gasoline dealers in New England, according to its website.

“We’re excited about it,” Katrina Waite, the retail sales division manager for C.N. Brown, said. “I think it’s important that everybody look toward a solution to this growing issue in our community. It can’t just be the addicts and their family. It really needs to be a community problem and the community comes together to solve it.”

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She said she is meeting with Jennifer Small of Common Ground Counseling in Norway to iron out the particulars as part a task force subcommittee.

Lange said counselors will play an integral role in monitoring addicts’ progress and recommending them for employment with C.N. Brown.

“Once they are addressing their addiction, then what happens?” Waite asked. “They need the support of the community. That’s where we come in. We’re calling it the Integration Subcommittee to help them integrate back into the community through employment.”

Lange said he is thrilled that C.N. Brown has come forward to help those battling addiction.

“I am hopeful it may give these individuals some focus,” he said. “If they see the opportunity is there to get a job, then that’s a goal. Those are long-term goals the task force is hoping for. . . . It’s huge.”

Once Waite found out there was a task force looking to combat opiate substance abuse, she attended a meeting and spoke with Lange and Jim Douglas of Healthy Oxford Hills about the employment idea. One of the reasons she attended is because the company has witnessed firsthand the detrimental effects heroin and opiate addiction has on the community, including robberies and thefts in its stores.

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Even though the potential for relapse is a struggle for addicts, it’s not what Waite has focused on.

“That’s a very real issue, but on the other hand, if they relapse, they’re going to be stealing from you anyhow,” she said. “They’re going to be creating issues in your community as a whole — (with) your business, your property values — not to mention the personal loss from deaths from heroin addiction.”

Lange and other law enforcement officials recently discussed police officers possibly carrying Narcan, also known as Naloxone, which can immediately reverse the effects of an opiate overdose. PACE ambulance officials have offered to provide local police departments training in its use.

“Whether the departments will go that route is another question,” Lange said. “Each individual department will have the final determination.”  

One thing that has been determined is Lange and Waite want others to step up to help addicts with their recovery.

“We would love to see other employers join us,” Waite said.

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