Maine's prescription addiction tearing families apart

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- For most people battling addiction, it takes hitting rock bottom before they even realize they have a problem.

"That's what we are finding, is people just doing things that are doing things that are unspeakable, and committing crimes that are unspeakable, and doing things that you don't want to hear about," explained Randi Sheehan, a clinical supervisor at Maine Behavioral Health (formerly Community Counseling Services).

Often times, she says, people will show up at their door, knowing they need help, but not sure why. She says people who become addicted to prescription drugs have a hard time understanding how it happened.

"They were being prescribed it for chronic pain. They were being prescribed it for anxiety," she stated. "That is one of their biggest barriers is that, 'I didn't know what happened. I was doing it because it was being prescribed, and it's real. The pain is real, you know. The condition is real. How did it get this bad?'"

She says addicts will go to any length to get what they need. She's had clients that have shopped for doctors to get different prescriptions. Others who have faked injuries or ailments at the Emergency Room to get medications. Some have stolen from friends and family, broken into homes and even robbed pharmacies, all to fuel their addiction.

"Elder abuse is a big piece, because we have kids and family members who are taking from their grandparents, or their ill elders, because it is available, or they know it is there," she said. "The kids are being effected. Families are being destroyed."

Despite that grim reality, Sheehan says their is hope for recovery.

"They are not defined by the things that they have done when they have been using," she said. "There is hope for every single person who walks through these doors. There is hope for every single person that struggles with addiction."

She says all it takes is acknowledging that their life is not what they want it to be, and taking that first step by seeking help.

"It is amazing to see people's lives change," Sheehan said.

One way you can help, either a friend or family member, or to avoid becoming a victim of crime, is by properly disposing of any and all unwanted medication or expired prescriptions.

"Get rid of all of those things. Get rid of anything that is a temptation. Anything that is not necessary," she stated.

On Friday, April 25th, NEWS CENTER, along with local law enforcement will be conducting a drug collection event from 5am until 7pm. In Portland, you can drive in and drop off any unwanted medicines, vitamins or supplements at the Back Cove parking lot. You can do the same in Bangor by heading over to the Airport Mall on Union Street.

If you cannot make it to either of these locations, you can use this database to find sites in Maine and New Hampshire that are taking part in the National Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 26th.


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