FARMINGTON — Selectmen Tuesday night, April 12, were introduced to Katlyn Johnson, a substance abuse counselor working out of the Police Department.

“She is a UMF alumni, moved here from away,” Police Chief Kenneth Charles said. “She has been working the last four years in substance abuse issues. She did two years working in a clinic in Chicago as well as a couple years working in Waterville, has plenty of experience.”

Much of Johnson’s caseload while in Waterville was Franklin County residents, Charles noted.

“The director had known that I was traveling from Franklin County,” Johnson said. Local clients were put with Johnson for community recognition, to let them know the wonderful things available, she said.

Johnson works for Western Maine Behavioral Health in the OPTIONS Initiative program, is stationed at the Police Department, Charles said.

“One of the most important things she does is she’s available to co-respond with officers when they respond to overdose situations,” he noted. Johnson is able to stay on scene, even come back later to provide services and encourage people to access treatment options, Charles said. “It is a really fantastic program.”


OPTIONS is the Overdose Prevention Through Intensive Outreach Naloxone Safety program founded by the Maine Office of Behavioral Health, Johnson said. It brings awareness of the many treatment options available for those struggling with any form of addition to counties, law enforcement and emergency medical services, she noted.

The program covers alcohol, detox, relapses, Johnson added.

OPTIONS Initiative lets people know there are beds available – even if out of state – that there are resources for helping people in recovery get jobs, other needed assistance, she noted. The program not only helps law enforcement and EMS with what they do, another aspect is improving the understanding of the Good Samaritan Law to increase the calls to 911 for medical assistance and overdose emergencies, Johnson said.

“There are a lot of medical issues that follow [that law], bringing medical attention immediately rather than later is safer and healthier,” she noted. The initiative increases the distribution and availability of lifesaving narcan to businesses, individuals and families in need, Johnson said. It helps answer those questions people may not want to ask or people aren’t comfortable asking, she added.

The initiative educates at risk populations on safer drug use practices that reduce the risk of both fatal and non-fatal overdose by using crime reduction strategies and resources, bringing awareness, Johnson said. “Our community is already doing a lot for these people, just connecting those in need [to resources],” she noted.

The grant-based program is free to all, Johnson said. “Trying to bring education and awareness, trying to save lives, help law enforcement with the wonderful work they do.”


Local support groups are a big part of recovery, Johnson noted. “It is not just bringing those heavy conversations of addiction, substance abuse, recovery, all of that, but also connecting them to the community, to resources during that time. Letting them know we are here for them, there are things that they can do, people that can be there to lift them up.”

“It is not just about people struggling individually,” Charles said. “It is about providing support, the resources if you are in that situation it is your family member that’s struggling. That is a huge burden for you as well.”

Drug Take Back Day Event is April 30

The Drug Take Back Day will be mixed up a bit this year, Charles noted.

The event has been held at Walmart in prior years, but will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Meetinghouse Park to make it more available, he said. A couple parking spots will probably be blocked off to create a drive-through area, Charles added.

According to the department’s Facebook page, Johnson and staff from Healthy Community Coalition will be at the event.

Everything turned in goes to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, is incinerated, Charles said. “Approximately 150 pounds of unused prescriptions were turned in last fall,” he noted. “Some could be narcotics, some could be abused, some we just don’t want in landfills and in water.”

Charles said five boxes were available last year.

“I think we are just scratching the surface, will have extra boxes this year,” he said.

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