Friday, April 21, 2023

Jane Pringle: Compassion Cures

By State Rep. Jane Pringle

We all feel stress at various times in our lives. The rush of information flooding over us today seems to grow stronger, often overwhelming us. Competing demands on our time can also overwhelm us. Each of us has different skills and resources to cope with this. For some of us, our responses can be life-threatening or life-saving.

State Rep. Jane Pringle
On Thursday, April 6, the “Be The Influence” Coalition led by Laura Morris, hosted a program at the Windham High School called “Compassion Cures: Building Hope By Overcoming Stigma.” It began with a 30-minute documentary film telling local stories about people and families experiencing substance use disorder and helping us see what we/they need to achieve recovery.

The film was followed by a panel discussion. Panelists included people in recovery, families who have lost loved ones to overdose, members of Portland Recovery Center, Northern Lights Medical Center, The Yellow Tulip Project, Director of our State Opioid Response Gordon Smith, Mrs. Maine 2022 Christine Erde, who suffers from Bipolar Disorder, Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield and Chelsea Berry, who has produced an album of songs dedicated to those of us dealing with addiction and the loss of loved ones to addiction.

Important messages from this program:

· Substance use disorder (SUD) is a disease of the brain and needs to be viewed and treated like any other diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure.

· There are both biologic and social risk factors that increase the risk for SUD, including family history of SUD.

· People with anxiety and depression sometimes “self-medicate” with substances like alcohol, marijuana and opiates which make them feel better. But, if they have SUD risk factors, they can become addicted to using them, even when that use interferes with everything else in their life.

· There are treatments for SUD that help people recover and programs that help them remain in recovery.

· Opiates obtained on the illegal market are now commonly laced with Fentanyl, a very strong opiate, which can quickly stop breathing and cause death.

· Naloxone (Narcan) is an extremely SAFE medication which blocks the effects of opioids and can save a life!

· The state Opioid Response Program is helping to increase the access to Recovery Programs, Education and Access to Narcan for all of us to be able to save a life and help someone into Recovery.

· If we can treat our friends, neighbors and family members with love and support, we can help them recover from the effects of addiction and regain their health and function!

Future programs planned by the Be The Influence Coalition include:

Mental Health First Aid training for religious leaders. April 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 40 Windham Center Road, Windham

Jammin’ For Mental Health through the Arts, May 3 from 3 to 7 p.m. at Windham High School.

I am very proud that Windham has so many people working together to make our community healthier. We are lucky to have them! <

State Rep. Jane Pringle represents District 107, part of Windham.

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