New Waldo County collaborative seeks to combat substance abuse

Published: Jun. 14, 2018 at 4:57 PM EDT
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The opioid crisis has impacted many across Maine in recent years.

The Waldo County Sheriff's Office is teaming up with other organizations to tackle the problem.

"The opioid epidemic is something that has concerned all of us, all across the state, all across the country," said Waldo County Sheriff, Jeff Trafton. "I think with all the partners we have in this room here today we can make a difference."

The recent opiate and heroin epidemic has not been far from the minds of law enforcement agencies all across the state, especially the Waldo County Sheriff's Office.

Last fall, they joined five other agencies in a collaboration for the purpose of combating the problem.

"We have this small group that is going to act as a steering committee and then we are hopefully going to hold general meetings where we can pull in those other community partners to continue to expand our ability to do what we're hoping to do," said Chief Deputy Jason Trundy.

The Waldo County Recovery Committee as they're known has reached a point in their work where they can now take action in their communities.

They've also created a pledge, which outlines their goals and the roles each agency plans to play in their ongoing efforts.

"What's great about this is expanding the options and the commitment to getting folks into treatment," said Carrie Sullivan of the Restorative Justice Project of the Mid-Coast. "So, we see that as a really positive step forward, and we're excited to be part of a collaborative that really shows how much the community cares."

This program also benefits inmates.

Sheriff Jeff Trafton of the Waldo County Sheriff's Office says it lts them follow and assist people after they've been released.

"That's huge because that is when they are most vulnerable. When they go back out into society and then go back to the same friends, and the same folks who got them into this problem, so I think that is going to make a huge difference."

Dr. Tim Hughes has been working with those struggling with substance issues for more than eight years.

While creating a collaborative culture between law enforcement and healthcare providers, he says their goal is to find the best way to treat individuals at the various stages of drug addiction.

"From the law enforcement point of view they see that punishment doesn't always work for substance abuse, and from a healthcare perspective we see that punishment sometimes does help, so it's really a middle ground between the two institutions that we need to find, so that's what we're trying to do."