Beginning at age 18, I have struggled with addiction to alcohol and drugs for years. Things got worse when I was prescribed opioid pain medications after back surgery. As for so many people I know they were the most comforting drugs, and the most dangerous.

Now I am three years in recovery. And I know that for people to get help and not die of an overdose, they need less shame and stigma around the struggle to get clean. We need the state to establish overdose prevention sites in our communities where people struggling with addiction can be safe and treated with compassion until they can move into recovery.

At these sites people will use pre-obtained drugs and sterile equipment under medical supervision. They will be treated with kindness, and offered counseling and referrals for help and treatment. And they will be safe from dying of an overdose until they can move into recovery. This options would save lives, save millions of dollars it costs Maine to fight the diseases spread with non-sterile syringes, and protect public safety.

The Legislature will have another chance at passing this bill in 2021.

I am hopeful that the Legislature will also have the chance to support drug sentencing reform (LD 1492) that directs people into treatment instead of only into jail, with a felony record that puts so many more barriers in the way of recovery. We need a public health approach to addiction, not more criminalization.

Jason Trahan, Lewiston

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