October 16, 2011

Faces on the front lines

Recovering addicts from all over Maine share their difficult stories, candidly confronting the low points in their lives and revealing a thing they all have in common: They’re still fighters.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 3)

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Kristin Roberts

Photos by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Blake Carver

Additional Photos Below


PAINKILLERS IN MAINE: Stories, video interviews and links to resources.

A few months after first trying the pills, she could no longer go without them. And that led to other drugs – cocaine, heroin or whatever was available at the time, she said.

Eventually, she found help at Discovery House, a clinic in Calais that dispenses daily doses of methadone to prescription opiate addicts.

“It’s pretty much saved my life,” Brown said.

Now, her bigger concern is her four children, between the ages of 6 and 13. The oldest is approaching high school and Brown is worried that she’ll encounter the same boredom and peer pressure to use pills.

Brown hopes to get a nursing license, which may be a ticket out of Washington County, she said. But she knows her kids will be exposed to drugs wherever they are.

“You can’t really run away from it,” she said.

Nicole Martin can’t explain why she got hooked on prescription pills and other drugs.

No family history of substance abuse. No trauma in her childhood. She didn’t experiment during high school in South Portland.

But she has been fighting her addiction for eight years.

Now 31, Martin was about 20 when she tried cocaine and got hooked. When she started showing up late to work and missing bills, she signed herself up for her first round of treatment.

She thought she had kicked her addiction, but instead switched to a popular new drug – OxyContin.

She remembers getting sick the first time she tried it. “But then you feel great, like nothing can hurt you,” she said.

A couple of months later, she couldn’t get out of bed without it. She started injecting the drugs. When she couldn’t find pills, she settled for heroin, a cheaper but less pure alternative.

Martin kept using the pills while she was pregnant with her son, who is now 5 years old.

“I would have thought that was the one thing that would have stopped me,” she said, wiping tears. “But it didn’t.”

Although her son is healthy, Martin still wonders what unknown effects her drug use may have.
She kept trying treatment, leaving sober and falling back into using different drugs.

She is now taking small doses of Suboxone, a drug that curbs her cravings for opiates. And she is in a six-month residential program at Crossroads in Portland. Family members are helping to care for her son and she gets visits in between counseling, support group meetings and work in a local restaurant.

“The only things I haven’t lost yet are my son and my family, and I haven’t gone to jail and I’m not dead,” Martin said. “But I guarantee you if I go back out there (and use again), they will happen in that order.”

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

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Additional Photos

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Isaac Malburg

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Daryl Blums

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Krista Tripp

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Alta Brown


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