We want your ideas for how to address Maine’s opiate epidemic.

The Bangor Daily News is hosting the One Life Project at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 4, at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. There, people will answer questions to come up with specific steps to ease the opiate epidemic.

Sen. Angus King will speak. The Bangor area Community Health Leadership Board will review and potentially pursue some of the ideas that come out of the evening.

We want as much input as possible, so we’re starting to gather ideas now. Below is one of several questions. (Find the rest here.) Send us your answers, big and small.

We expect to run out of room, so please register soon:

Changing culture

For a long time, our culture has regarded people with addiction as wrongdoers. That’s a problem because it can actually prevent people from seeking or receiving the help they need.

We tend to marginalize people who have developed a substance use disorder or are at risk of developing one. Students who have used drugs may be kicked off sports teams, suspended or expelled. Landlords may be less likely to rent to someone with a history of drug use. Employees may be reprimanded, terminated or simply not hired.

It is reasonable to hold someone accountable for hurting others, but isolating that person may make him or her even more likely to use, and make recovery harder.

One study, for example, found youth were more likely to use marijuana after being suspended for pot use. It also found they were less likely to use pot after discussing its effects with a teacher.

Family members of those experiencing addiction may also feel the effects of stigma. They may struggle in silence, feel shame or a sense of failure, or not know where to turn. There are few options for families to receive support or outreach.

So, what should we do about all this?

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Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda is the editor of Maine Focus, a team that conducts journalism investigations and projects at the Bangor Daily News. She also writes for the newspaper, often centering her work on domestic and...