Residents of four Maine towns will have a new ally to navigate the opioid recovery process.

The police departments of Buxton, Gorham, Windham and Westbrook on Thursday introduced Danielle Rideout, who will serve as the recovery liaison for residents of the four towns.

Rideout’s 18-month position was created with the help of a state grant of $111,800 to the city of Westbrook announced in September to combat the opioid crisis.

She will be tasked with assisting people in all stages of recovery to get their lives back on track, whether that means helping them find treatment or counseling services, establishing a stable primary care doctor, or completing rental applications or finding a job or job training.

“When you’re using, that’s first and foremost,” said Rideout, 32, who is herself in longterm recovery. “So you don’t take care of yourself and you don’t take care of the things in your life that you need to. When you’re using, especially if you start out young which most people do, you don’t have those natural coping skills to walk into a doctor’s office and say I need help, or walk into a police station to say I need help.”

Anyone in the four communities can contact Rideout directly, or through their town’s police department, and officers will be able to refer citizens to her during the course of their patrols.

The program follows a similar move by Westbrook police chief Janine Roberts, who in July hired a part-time coordinator for the city’s response to the opioid crisis.

Although police from the four towns lauded the efforts by Roberts to bring more resources to bear on what has become a leading public health problem, many acknowledged the lack of treatment options in Maine.

Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said addicts are typically not in jail long enough to receive any meaningful treatment, and that hospitals are not set up to treat people long term.

There simply are not enough beds for detoxification and treatment, Joyce said.

“This really boils down to supply and demand,” he said. “There not a lot of supply, and there’s an overwhelming demand.”

Complicating matters further, Joyce said, is that many people who seek treatment don’t have health insurance, making it even harder for people who need help to get it.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at:

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