Pubdate: Sat, 22 Jan 2005
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2005 Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Katherine Cassidy
Bookmark: (Treatment)


MACHIAS -- The Washington County Drug Action Team, whose members represent 
several organizations working on drug abuse issues across the county, is 
drawing up a plan on how to best spend $100,000. That's the portion 
allotted to the Washington County group from a $400,000 federal grant to 
address drug problems within Maine. Called the Maine Rural Substance Abuse 
Partnership, the grant was awarded last April to the University of Maine's 
Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy.

Now the Washington County drug watchdogs are narrowing down the ways the 
money can help bring awareness of the area's drug problems - and possible 

Members of the group met in Machias on Wednesday for a planning session. 
Calais-area members, plus those in the public who want to get involved with 
the fight against drugs, are scheduled to meet from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, 
Feb. 10, at the Calais Motor Inn.

Also in the plans is a larger forum, an all-day meeting Thursday, May 19, 
at the University of Maine at Machias. That would gather all those 
committed to fighting substance abuse, a follow-up of sorts to the twin 
drug summits the group staged in Machias and Calais in 2003.

The Washington County Drug Action Team is a grass-roots group that started 
more than five years ago. Barbara Drisko, a selectman in Columbia Falls, is 
the group's chairman.

Foremost in the members' minds is helping finance the implementation of 
2-1-1, a phone service and one-stop resource for nonemergency social and 
health needs. Those whose lives are touched by drugs, either as users or by 
family members who use drugs, could talk with a trained responder to get 
references for help.

If the state legislature approves a bill this spring to support 2-1-1, 
already a national initiative working in 28 states, Washington County and 
Cumberland County would be the first two counties in the state to make use 
of the program.

The drug action team has identified getting the 2-1-1 help line program up 
and running - with other financial partners - as its major priority. It 
would cost about $35,000 to implement within Washington County for the 
first year.

A more costly project would establish transitional housing within 
Washington County for those who are in need of outpatient care away from 
old friends and neighborhoods where their drug habits took hold.

"It could be a place to live and be free of the pressures that cause people 
to use drugs," said George Bunker, a former state representative from 
Kossuth Township and one of the longtime supporters of the drug action team.

The team is a mix of elected officials, educators, social service 
providers, medical personnel and law enforcement officers.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jackl