Support group in Hancock County helps those who have lost someone to addiction

ELLSWORTH, Maine (WABI) - Last year, drug overdoses continued to claim nearly one life per day in Maine.

For the loved ones who have lost someone to addiction, it can be difficult to talk about.

A support group in Hancock county is trying to help with that.

"We don't want them erased from our lives and not speaking about them doesn't make this go away."

Karen Santerre is no stranger to the pain addiction can bring to a family.

"We lived it for whatever amount of time. Even if you were a mother that didn't know, you are learning more about addiction than you ever thought you would have," said Santerre.

Her son, Brendon, lost his seven year battle on March 31, 2016.

About a year after his death, Santerre started leaning on those who understood the kind of pain and loss she was experiencing.

She started attending a support group at Hospice Volunteers of Hancock County in Ellsworth.

She shared her experience with others who have experienced addiction first hand.

"My son was an addict," said Santerre. "I've never denied that. I've never hid behind it. I don't think we need to hide behind this. I think the more of us that stand up to it, the more it helps others become aware."

Despite efforts to slow the opioid crisis in the state, drug overdoses continued to claim nearly one life per day in 2018.

Staff at Hospice Volunteers of Hancock County say Santerre is not alone, and they hope to reduce the stigma around addiction by offering a support group that will provide a confidentIal and safe place for those who are willing to share their story.

"I think it is a very healthy thing to come together with other people and express how you're feeling and to know it's normal and to get your feelings validated, and also to hear how other people are coping and get some ideas on how other people are coping," explained Janice Ranco.

Barbara Royal is the Executive Director of Open Door Recovery in Ellsworth. She says addiction is a family disease, and those facilitating the support groups understand that.

"They truly understand that this is a disease and that they've had a loved one that has passed from it. They can reach out to each other and give each other love and support," said Royal.

Support Santerre says she got during her time at HVHC.

She says regardless of the pain, she believes these are stories that need to be told.

"In my son's obituary even, I put that he lost his battle with addiction because if it even stopped one person that read that obituary, it did more than I could do myself," said Santerre.

The group will meet for five weeks starting Wednesday, February 20th.

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