Sam Bullard puts the final touches on a mural outside the Shaw's supermarket on Main Street in Bangor on Oct. 19, 2022. The image, depicting hikers atop Cadillac Mountain at sunrise and symbolizing hope for the future, is sponsored by the Together Place Peer Run Recovery Center on 2nd Street. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

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I have lived in recovery for two decades and worked as a treatment provider for over a decade. Various evidenced-based approaches to substance use disorder have the common thread of forming healthy relationships and connections. Criminalization does not assist individuals with substance use disorder build healthy connections. Instead, it disrupts existing healthy connections and creates barriers to positive connections when access to social supports and treatment are available.

When individuals are able to meet their basic needs such as housing, food security, warmth, safety and human connection, they are more successful in their recoveries. In my own recovery, positive relationships with treatment providers, community members, and employers helped me find stable housing, employment and to become someone my children are proud to have parenting them. Now, my professional evaluations are respected by child protective service workers, district attorneys and judges. There is nothing miraculous about my journey: I had positive connections and opportunities that allowed me a life beyond my wildest dreams.

All people with substance use disorder deserve the same positive connections and opportunities I’ve had. However, that is not what I see. People with a criminal record because of their substance use often do not make it to the six-month mark of outpatient treatment.

I believe LD 1975 is a significant step forward, increasing access to life saving treatment and positive connections while decreasing barriers for individuals with substance use disorder to achieve and maintain sustained recovery. I urge anybody reading this to support this legislation.

Jamie Corbett