My beloved son began using opiates in his teens in a desperate attempt to self-medicate his intolerable symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Despite psychiatric intervention, he struggled with his addiction for over two years, until he became eligible at the age of 18 for treatment at a methadone clinic.

That treatment, I have no doubt, saved his life.

But he lost his medical coverage, along with many other Mainers, when Medicaid funding was cut several years ago.

Thousands of Mainers, including working parents and other low wage workers lost coverage.

With little warning, my son was rapidly withdrawn from his methadone treatment and began suffering the agonizing symptoms of opiate withdrawal.

He told me at the time that he didn’t think he could handle the pain, and would most likely be using again very shortly.

He did try to stay clean, but, like so many others, he was unable to do this on his own.

I desperately tried to find him health coverage he could afford.

But he was not eligible for the subsidies of ObamaCare because, ironically, his income was too low.

As many other Mainers have discovered, there is a very large crack in our healthcare system that is swallowing real people and devastating them and their families.

They are ineligible for the subsidies on the Health Insurance Marketplace, and our governor refuses to accept federal funds to cover them under MaineCare.

A bill in Augusta, L.D. 633, is being considered to address this problem, using federal funds to pay for almost all of the costs.

I urge our legislators to vote for the bill and override the certain gubernatorial veto!

The plan is different from what has been proposed in Maine in the past.

A new approach, led by a Republican legislator, helps people with higher incomes stay in the private health insurance market, while people with lower incomes will get covered under MaineCare.

Both groups will have to pay part of the cost of their care.

They will also be encouraged to take part in wellness programs, including substance abuse and mental health treatment.

I also understand that other states are using these same federal funds to address addiction problems in those states.

These funds could help people like my son and the many others who also need treatment to get back on their feet, stay clean, and become healthy enough to get on with their lives.

These funds could seriously address Maine’s alarming number of overdose deaths: 272 deaths last year, up significantly from the already appalling 208 deaths in 2014.

These are real people being affected by these political policies.

These are real families like mine who are being destroyed because their children have lost the health coverage they need to treat their addiction and stay under medically-supervised control with appropriate drug treatment.

The costs of either methadone or Suboxone treatment — both medically proven to be effective against heroin/opiate withdrawal symptoms — are more than compensated for when you compare them to the costs to our society of drug-related crime and incarceration of people with the real, treatable disease of addiction.

Addiction is a serious disorder, and it’s not enough to just want to beat it.

People with this disorder need proper treatment and support.

The symptoms of heroin and opiate withdrawal are something that no one in this day and age should be forced to suffer.

No parent should have to watch their child suffer through because they are poor.

Getting clean is merely the beginning of a long trek to health.

This is where the right therapy comes in.

My son did well with his program because his pain was under control as he worked to rebuild his life.

But that was interrupted when he lost access to the medicine that was so crucial to his recovery. No one wants to be an addict, but they need help to break the cycle.

It’s a fact that treatments like these work, but until our society wakes up and realizes that there is more than one moral dimension to this issue, that substance abuse disorder is a real disease, people will continue to needlessly suffer and die.

I pray my son is not one of them.


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