BANGOR – When more than one person a day dies in a drug overdose in Maine, it’s clear the state has a drug problem.
That is why substance use disorder was the focus of the 24th annual Maine Child Welfare Conference.
“This year, with the drug problems happening in the state of Maine and how it’s impacting children, it just made sense that this would be our focus,” Bonny Dodson, of the director of clinical services for United Cerebral Palsy of Maine.
The goal is to come up with ideas about how participants can really support families dealing with drug use.
“I think in the past we’ve treated them like criminals,” Dodson said. “And there is a lot stigma about addiction verses really treating it like it’s a medical condition and to support the kids and families.”
“And to figure out how as a community we can help bring them back into the community and have them reassimilate,” said Larry Tyler, an addiction and substance use disorder counselor.
Dr. Nancy Young of California-based Children and Family Futures was the keynote. She spoke about how groups and agencies should work together to do what is in the best interest of the child.
“Also at the center is this notion of being proactive and preemptive – trying to get at the problem before it manifests itself into impairment for the child,” said Marilyn Chapman, a guardian ad litem in Maine.
Nearly 400 child protection caseworkers, social workers, mental health and healthcare professionals and students attended the day-long conference at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
One attendee said she learned a lot.
“I will be passing it along,” said Paige Gott, of Trenton. “I’m also in recovery myself so it hit home.”