In the winter of 2018, a new family moved across the street from me. A month or two later, a lot of late-night car traffic at the family’s home gave great concern to neighbors, who contacted the police and began submitting anonymous tips to the Augusta Police Department.

The neighbors, including me, speculated that the traffic had to do with illegal drugs, since the visits were quick, with the car left running in the driveway, and individuals leaving the home with small packages. In February of 2019, an attempted murder occurred at the home; the police were not called; the injured person was dropped off at Maine General, and when the hospital saw the wound (a wound inflicted by another person), they called Augusta police. By the time police arrived in our neighborhood, the house, which we believed was a “trap house,” had been cleared of any drugs.

The ongoing late-night car traffic at the home and the attempted murder terrified our neighborhood. We met with an Augusta police officer in charge of the case and were told that the department had to have “eyes on the drugs” for probable cause to search the house. The neighbors continued to provide anonymous tips to the police.

As another tactic, the neighbors decided to meet with the owner of the home (not the occupant). We learned a lot about the history of the tenant’s substance use disorder and his near death from an overdose a year earlier. One of the neighbors shared that an Augusta-based program, Young People in Recovery, might be something we could offer to the young man who had the substance use disorder with opioids.

I called the young man and began giving him rides to the Young People in Recovery meetings each week. I attended the meetings with him and learned a lot from the other attendees. The situation became hopeful when my neighbor-friend began engaging with the other members and obtained their contact information. He told me he didn’t need rides to the meetings anymore, because the other program members with whom he’d made contact were giving him rides.

I thought things were going well for him, and I didn’t check on him regularly. Sadly, the upswing in his recovery didn’t last long. The opioids, his cerebral need for the opioids, and his isolation took hold of him. He died of an overdose several months later, much to the heartbreak to his family, friends and neighbors.


Naturally, we asked ourselves, “What more could I have done to help him, connect with him?”

If Augusta had had a Recovery Community Center when my neighbor-friend was seeking recovery, he might be alive today. The support, the safe place, the camaraderie, the connections and the “one-stop” concept of a Recovery Community Center might’ve given him chances in his recovery that a once-a-week meeting at a church couldn’t.

The opposite of addiction is connection. A Recovery Community Center is such a hub of connection for our brothers and sisters who have substance use disorder.

Susan Parks lives in Augusta.

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