PARIS — The Western Maine Addiction Task Force has officially adopted a name for its version of the Angel Program, which the group is modeling after the successful Gloucester (Mass.) Police Department initiative to fight the growing heroin problem in the region.

“Project Save ME” is the name Jennifer Small from Common Ground Counseling came up with to represent the task force’s key program involving law enforcement agencies in Oxford County and the Bridgton Police Department.

The program provides individuals living with addictions a safe place to turn in their illegal or prescription drugs and paraphernalia without fear of being arrested as a first step on their road to recovery. Law enforcement officials will put them in touch with a network of counselors the task force is in the process of building.

At Wednesday’s task force meeting, the group unanimously voiced approval of the Project Save ME name.

“It represents people saving themselves,” said Task Force organizer and interim Paris Police Chief Lt. Jeffrey Lange. “It places on emphasis on them saying ‘Save Me’ and getting the help they need. The task force is here to assist, but it takes the individual to want to come forward for help.”

Technology was a big part of Wednesday’s meeting, because it allowed people in Rumford and Paris to confer via Skype. This was the first attempt at such a split-location meeting. Attendees at both locations were able to take part in an interactive online workshop, hosted by someone at a third location, as part of the meeting.

With Oxford County being as large as it is, Lange said technology is going to help the group reach more individuals and spread their message to more communities.

“It allows those with transportation issues or lack of funds to pay for gas to travel back and forth,” he said. “We can also send out or share with the group different products and brainstorm ideas to solve issues that the different areas are facing. An issue in northern Oxford County may not be the same in the southern section, or that trends are happening and it may affect them in the near future. This way we can discuss this and possibly prepare for a solution.”

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