WATERVILLE – Earlier this week, new drug overdose death statistics were released . So far this year, Maine has recorded more drug overdose deaths than it had during all of 2015.
In Waterville, first responders say an 18 percent increase in the use of Narcan, used to revive those suffering an opiate overdose. Now, the Waterville Police Department has announced plans to initiate Operation HOPE in January 2017. HOPE is an acronym for Heroin Opiate Prevention Effort. And, it’s a program that’s saved addicts lives in other parts of the state.
“It’s really all about treating addicts and putting them on a path to recovery,” Joe Massey, chief of the Waterville Police Department.
Enforcement, Education and treatment are the pillars of Operation HOPE.
“We want to help those suffering form substance abuse disorder before they necessarily become offenders and resort to a life of crime,” said William Bonney, Waterville Police Department Deputy Police Chief.
As with anything, there’s a cost associated with the program. But there are scholarships available through the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program.
“The ripple affect is great because it’s not just the addict, it’s their whole family,” said Suzanne Walsh, executive director of KVCAP.
While the number of overdoses has increased, so has the number of people seeking treatment.
“The greater waterville area is seeing an increase in opioid use and opioid dependence. There has been…well…within the state of Maine itself, between 2010 and 2014, the amount of people in (drug treatment) services has quadrupled,” said Skyla Littlefield, a certified drug and alcohol counselor with Discovery House in Waterville.
“This project has been successful in other police departments in other parts of the state. Now, Waterville police are giving it a try and say, if just one person is helped it will be a success.