Addiction is like any physical illness, except when people seek treatment for addiction they are stigmatized for admitting they have an addiction.

Providing Narcan is akin to providing any other lifesaving drug. Most folks who are physically addicted to any substance, be it food, alcohol, heroin or the like are so because they know no other coping methods. People who have addictions often would be diagnosed with severe and pervasive anxiety or depression, but either they don’t have the resources to seek therapy and medical advice, or they are too stigmatized to ask for help.

If the resources for mental health care were seen as important as physical health care and the stigma was lessened, we wouldn’t need to have these conversations and hear the heartbreaking stories about the folks that Narcan could have saved.

Narcan could have saved my brother, Josh. The words “Josh is gone” will forever be emblazoned in my memories. I couldn’t bring myself to return to Maine for more than five years after his death thinking that would prevent the reality of his death from sinking in. His life and knowledge about his personal struggles taught me to love unconditionally.

My brother had dreams like anyone, and not a single one of them included becoming addicted to cocaine and eventually trying heroin. One time was all it took for that drug to end my brother’s life and change the course of mine.

Alicia BarnesWaterville

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