In May of 2014, the film “Hungry Heart” was presented in Waldo County Maine. The docudrama, sponsored by Seaport Community Health Center, highlighted a country doctor, in St. Albans, Vermont. The film centered on the doctor and his compassionate treatment of his many opiate addicted patients with the medication, buprenorphine. The viewers were made aware of the extent of addiction and the scarcity of support, as well as barriers to accessible treatment. A community forum and panel discussion followed the film.
Several weeks later, interested community members met to discuss the problem of untreated drug and alcohol addiction in Waldo County. In these meetings, held by the Waldo County Anti-Drug Coalition, personal stories were shared and those who listened were moved to take an active role to address the issue at its grassroots.
As this conversation grew, it was clear that in addition to the coalition’s effort on prevention and education of drug and alcohol addiction, a new group was needed to focus on the stigma of untreated drug and alcohol addiction along with an increase in recovery and treatment resources which the community clearly lacked. Soon after, through a collaborative, inclusive, process WeCARE was created.
The WeCARE acronym; Waldo Encourages Community Assisted Recovery Efforts and the mission statement, to build a collaborative, non-judgmental, environment to support addiction recovery through education, advocacy, and compassionate community action was created through a group effort.
During recovery month of 2014, WeCARE launched a community awareness campaign. First, “Anonymous People” was presented. The film, a counterpoint to “Hungry Heart”, honors the twenty-three million Americans in long-term recovery. Next, the first annual Race/Walk to Honor the Victims of Untreated Drug and Alcohol Addiction, their Families, and Friends was held. Then, without pause the WeCARE logo contest was promoted and a winner chosen. The winner’s logo is now on permanent display in the Belfast Police Station lobby. Finally, a “Break the Stigma” rock concert to celebrate “recovery made visible” was offered at the annual New Years By The Bay inside the police station.
Now, not quite a year later, several of the initial task force attendees formed the WeCARE Board of Directors. At the monthly community group meetings there are people from the twelve step tradition and those in medication-assisted recovery, members of Alanon, and men from the local correctional re-entry center as well as clergy, social workers and educators who support the WeCARE movement, and finally an unlikely ally, a police officer, who humbly admits the “war on drugs” has been lost.
If you know someone affected with untreated or under treated drug or alcohol addiction or you have your own struggle, or you simply want to help, WeCARE is one way to get involved and to show you care.