Gov. Paul LePage’s recent comments about Narcan and addiction are ignorant, brash and uninformed.

Illicit drug use is a big public health problem. According to the 2010 and 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 10.5 percent of 12-17 year-olds, 26.3 percent of 18-25 year-olds, and 7.1 percent of people over the age of 25 in Maine have used illicit drugs in the past month.

I recommend that LePage speak with people with drug addictions to hear their stories. This will show him that addiction is a disease. It is treatable, but it is a disease. They don’t choose to stay addicted.

People who are addicted to drugs are people; they are our sons, daughters, husbands, wives and friends. But their brain works in a way that compulsively seeks drugs even though they know this has negative consequences. Addiction starts to take over their life. They change their behavior and daily routines to find a way to satisfy their addiction.

In addition, most people who use illicit drugs had so many risk factors that it seems as if the world is working against them. Poor social skills, friends that use drugs, lack of parental supervision, drug availability and poverty are all risk factors for drug addiction.

Narcan is not an “escape” or “an excuse to stay addicted.” It simply saves lives. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that 40 percent-60 percent of people going through treatment for drug addiction will relapse. Even those who are going through treatment are at risk for relapsing and overdosing.

Addiction is not a choice. I hope that LePage tries to understand the people that he is affecting when he makes ignorant comments and policy decisions in the future.

Taylor SchwartzManchester

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