Substance use problems affect many youth, families, and communities. However, prevention works and no matter who you are, there’s something you can do to help.
Here’s what we’re working on and how you can get involved:
Drug-Free Communities Coalition
The Drug-Free Communities (DFC) is the Nation’s leading effort to mobilize communities to prevent youth substance use. Directed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the DFC Program provides grants to community coalitions to reduce youth substance use and increase community collaboration.
Recognizing that local problems need local solutions, DFC-funded coalitions collaborate with many sectors of the community and use environmental strategies to address local substance use problems.
Monthly DFC Coalition meetings are held at Bangor Public Health & Community Services that are open to all. To learn more about attending a meeting or getting involved, contact us.
Hawks 4 Change, a youth coalition at Hermon High School was created as part of our Drug-Free Communities (DFC) program.
Hawks 4 Change is hard at work, making many positive changes in their school and community.
Their accomplishments include:
- Starting a school food pantry, with Grab and Go Boxes in each homeroom funded by local businesses and donations.
- Hosting educational workshops and social gatherings for students.
- Presenting to the town council, school board and administration.
- Providing education to parents to prevent hosting underage drinking parties.
- Participating in youth leadership training.
- Working with businesses to prevent alcohol being purchased for minors. (Project Sticker Shock)
- Writing and recording substance use and mental health awareness PSAs with local media partner, WHSN
- Placing peace cranes on school lockers
Preventing Opioid Overdoses
Bangor Public Health & Community Services created a brief video to explain the signs of overdose and how to save a life. Please watch the following video and share it widely:
You can also download the Overdose Prevention Rack Card.
Many of our friends, family and neighbors are affected by opioid use here in Maine.
We offer in-person trainings and print material to help you respond to an overdose and learn ways to prevent overdoses. All services are free and available in Penobscot, Hancock, and Washington Counties.
If you have questions or would like us to present at your workplace, community forum, or school, please contact us.
Opioid overdose deaths have been increasing over the past few years. People can overdose on prescription and illicit opioids. Knowing the signs and emergency-response steps is essential to saving lives.
Signs and symptoms include:
- Blue/purple fingernails or lips
- Breathing slows or stops
- Make gasping, gurgling or loud snoring sounds
- Limp body
- Won’t respond to yelling or touch
If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, follow these emergency steps:
See if they are responsive
- Call the person’s name.
- If this doesn’t work, vigorously grind knuckles into the sternum (the breastbone in middle of chest) or rub knuckles on the person’s upper lip.
- DON’T put the person into a cold bath or shower. This increases the risk of falling, drowning, or going into shock.
- If the person responds, assess whether he or she can stay awake and breathing.
- AN OPIOID OVERDOSE NEEDS IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION.
- All you have to say is “Someone is unresponsive and not breathing.”
- Be sure to give a specific address and/or description of your location.
If Available, Give Naloxone (sometimes called Narcan)
- If the person overdosing does not respond within 2 to 3 minutes after administering a dose of naloxone, administer a second dose of naloxone.
- Both the nasal spray and naloxone auto-injector are packaged in a carton containing two doses to allow for repeat dosing if needed.
- Treat all overdoses, like opioid overdoses. Fentanyl-laced cocaine is a growing problem. If available, give naloxone in all overdose situations. This reversal medication won’t hurt a person if they aren’t experiencing opioid overdose.
Help the Person Breathe
- Ventilatory support (CPR) may be lifesaving on its own.
- Rescue breathing can be very effective in supporting respiration, and chest compression can provide ventilatory support.
Monitor the Person’s Response
- DO stay with the person and keep the person warm.
- All people should be watched for recurrence of signs of overdose for at least 4 hours from the last dose of naloxone.
- Most people respond by returning to breathing on their own. The response generally happens within 2 to 3 minutes of giving naloxone. (Continue CPR while waiting for the naloxone to take effect.)
- Because naloxone is short-acting, overdose symptoms may return. That’s why it’s essential to get the person medical care as quickly as possible, even if the person revives after naloxone and seems to feel better.
- Put the person in the “recovery position” on the side, if you must leave the person unattended for any reason. This will help prevent them from choking.
Any person in the State of Maine can get a prescription for naloxone by calling Penobscot Community Health Care. To request a prescription for yourself or a loved one, please call (207)404-8000 ext 2232 or 1157. You will speak with a PCHC staff member who will collect the information necessary to process your prescription at the pharmacy of your choice. The cost of the prescription may be covered by patient insurance or is available at a cash price. PCHC patients seeking assistance affording their medications may talk with a PCHC Prescription Assistance Technician.
Preventing Chronic Absenteeism in Schools
Bangor Public Health and Community Services in partnership with the Bangor School Department are collaborating to promote the attendance of every student, every day at school.
Chronic absenteeism is missing 10% of school days. It’s a big risk factor for youth substance use as well as poor academic outcomes. When youth aren’t in school, they miss opportunities for learning and academic growth. They also miss out on relationships, connection and bonding within their school-community. Nutrition support, exposure to health education and health-related screenings offered at school also provide students with a layer of protection. When students miss school, they miss out on too much.
Everyone can help our youth get to school. If you’re a business, work with a local school to provide incentives for good or improved attendance, such as gift certificates, books, healthy snacks or backpacks. If you’re a parent, learn ways to make going to school a habit.
These tips may help:
- Set a regular bedtime and morning routine.
- Lay out clothes and pack backpacks the night before.
- Introduce your child to her teachers and classmates before school starts to help with transitions.
- Don’t let your child stay home unless she is truly sick. Keep in
mind complaints of a stomach ache or headache can be a sign
of anxiety and not a reason to stay home.
- If your child seems anxious about going to school, talk to
teachers, school counselors, or other parents for advice on
how to make her feel comfortable and excited about learning.
- Develop back-up plans for getting to school if something
comes up. Call on a family member, a neighbor, or
- Avoid medical appointments and extended trips when school
is in session.
If you’re a parent or caregiver of a student in Bangor Schools who’d like support with student attendance, please contact the School Attendance Specialist.
Currently, our project is focused on The City of Bangor, but we hope to design interventions and tools that can be adopted by other school systems.
This project is funded by a SAMHSA CARA Act grant.
At AlcoholScreening.org, you can take a confidential self-test to assess your drinking patterns and receive personalized feedback. You’ll find out whether your alcohol consumption is likely to be within safe limits, or if it may be harmful to your health, either now or in the future.
Help for Youth
Could a Friend Use Your Help?
When you talk, your friends will listen – even if you’ve tried drugs or alcohol yourself.
You may be worried that your friend will be mad at you – but if you really think that he/she/they needs help, you need to say something.
These tips from Above the Influence can help you get ready for the conversation.
If You Need Help
There are resources available, and people ready to help. The following are a really good starting place:
- Text ABOVE to 741-741 for 24/7, anonymous, free crisis counseling via the Crisis Text Line.
- Connect with the Brewer Chapter of Young People in Recovery (YPR).
- YPR envisions a world where everyone can access the necessary resources to recover from substance use disorder.
- They offer monthly meetings and ways to connect and get involved.
- YPR’s mission is to provide the training and networks all individuals, families, and communities need to recover and maximize their full potential.
Get the latest information on how drugs and alcohol affect the brain and body from NIDA for Teens.
Dealing with Media
There’s no shortage of youth-targeted advertising by the alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco/vaping industries.These companies are looking to develop lifelong customers and “replacement smokers”. Many are marketing their products as healthy and a good alternative to other choices, but often that’s not the real story.
These tips from The Media Literacy Project can help you critically evaluate the messages you’re receiving:
- Recognize what the media maker wants you to believe or do
- Recognize bias, spin, misinformation, and lies
- Discover the parts of the story that are not being told
- Evaluate media messages based on your own experiences, skills, beliefs, and values.
- Advocate for media justice
If you’re interested in working with us on Project Sticker Shock, youth advocacy or other opportunities for substance use prevention or leadership development, please contact us.
Help for Parents/Caregivers
All youth are at risk of substance use, and what you do matters! Parents are the #1 influence of whether or not their children choose to use substances.
Marijuana comes up in conversations and in the media a lot these days. So we’ve created a parent website specifically focused on preventing youth marijuana use.
For more prevention information, check out SAMHSA’s Talk They Hear You Campaign to help you start—and keep up—the conversation about drinking alcohol and using other drugs.
If you’re worried that your child may be drinking alcohol or using substances, visit Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Parent Toolkit.
Help for Schools
We offer several services, free of charge, to all schools in Penobscot County.
Classroom Education for Students (Prime for Life©)
This is not a “one and done” special assembly, but a series of classroom sessions designed to help students identify their own risk for substance use disorder, while also defining low risk and high risk choices with a certified Prime For Life© instructor. Each student receives a workbook that is also provided free of charge. Contact us to schedule Prime for Life.
Training for School Faculty/Staff and Parent Education
Workshops on a variety of topics such as marijuana trends, e-vapor devices, and Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey data presentations. We also collaborate with law enforcement agencies to offer drug/drug paraphernalia identification training. Contact us to schedule a workshop.
Technical Assistance with School Policies
Schools should take a look at their substance use policy every two years, and when new problems arise. A comprehensive policy that fits your school’s values is a powerful tool in preventing student substance use problems. Contact us to request policy support.
Brochures, Posters and Fact Sheets
Bangor Public Health provides a variety of prevention-focused material at no-cost to schools. You can request materials for your school building and/or to send home to families. Contact us to request print materials.
Help for Businesses/Employees
Alcohol Server/Seller Trainings
If you sell or serve alcohol, we offer free server/seller trainings. You’ll gain a professional certification valid for 3 years as well as new tools and strategies. We offer classes throughout Penobscot County and are able to come to your establishment (for larger groups).
Alcohol Sales Policies
Sales policies help liquor licensees stay compliant with Maine liquor laws and assist employees with the responsible sale of alcohol. Maine offer a free, online policy generator for businesses. Contact Robin Carr for policy assistance.
Participate in Sticker Shock
If you sell alcohol in a retail store, contact Robin Carr to implement Project Sticker Shock. The goal to reach people over age 21 who legally purchase alcohol and provide it to a minor. The project consists of stickers being adhered to multi-packs of alcoholic beverages (beer, alco-pops, etc) in stores. These orange stickers explain the legal penalties for providing alcohol to minors. A group of youth accompanied by adult chaperones – including a law enforcement officer, visits stores to place the stickers. This is a great thing to do during high-risk drinking times for youth such as prom or graduation season.
Drug-Free Workplace Policies
Bangor Public Health & Community Services can help your work site establish a drug-free workplace policy or update your current policy. Contact Robin Carr for policy assistance.
Brochures, Posters and Fact Sheets
Bangor Public Health provides a variety of prevention-focused material at no-cost to employers. Contact Joseph Locke to request print materials.
Knowledge Is Power Campaign
Medicine Safe Storage and Disposal
You want them to reach for their goals…not your medicine.
70% of children who abuse prescription drugs get them from family and friends.
- Secure your medications in a place where kids can’t access them. Lock them up if possible. This includes marijuana.
- Remember, how you store medicines should change as your children get older. What works to protect a toddler from accidental ingestion may not work to protect a curious teenager who might actually be looking for it.
- Count your medications, and keep an inventory sheet.
- Let your kids know that you are keeping track.
- Download a tracking sheet
- Get rid of any unused medications.
- Many local police departments have drop boxes, and also hold take-back events twice a year.
Patient Education Campaign – Knowledge is Power
A 2014 study done by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) found that 1.9 million people had a substance use disorder involving prescription opioids.
There is no evidence that opioids benefit those with chronic pain, but there is plenty of evidence that shows that these drugs lead to increased risk of heart disease, accidental overdose, and a 35 percent risk of addiction.
Oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine – the list goes on.
In 2014 there were 47,055 lethal drug overdoses. Deaths related to prescription pain relievers accounted for 18,893 of them.
The United States is the biggest consumer of prescription opioids. We account for almost 100 percent of the global total for hydrocodone and 81 percent for oxycodone, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Knowing all the pain treatment options available to you is the difference between being overpowered, and being empowered.
SAFER, EFFECTIVE TREATMENT OPTIONS DO EXIST.
They come in forms that you might not recognize. Chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, massage therapy, nerve blocks, trigger points injections – this list goes on, too, but those who use opioids may not be aware they have so many options.
That’s why Bangor Public Health and Community Services and Penobscot Community Health Center have teamed up to raise awareness – both about the opioid epidemic, and about having a conversation with your doctor about the potential non-opioid treatments available to you.
Do your research. Initiate the conversation. Listen to you Doctor
1.Do your research
Educate yourself about prescription opioids, their addictive qualities, and other options.
2. Initiate the Conversation
Let your doctor know that you would like to hear about non-opioid treatment options for your pain. They may have suggestions for your specific type of pain and other options available to you. The Centers for Disease Control reports that “clinicians should consider the full range of therapeutic options for the treatment of chronic pain. However, it is hard to estimate the number of persons who could potentially benefit from opioid pain medication long term.”
3.Listen to your Doctor
Your doctor will be the best person to go to with questions. They may refer you to trusted sources for alternative pain management. If they suggest that you use prescription opioids for your pain, but you would like a second opinion, you have that option as well.
Know what it means to have choices. Know what opioids can do.
Providers, please feel free to use the following resources for patients. If you need printed copies, please contact Joseph Locke.
For more information, download the materials below