Philanthropic business leader and area physician combine forces to battle opioids

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 11:45am

Citing a continuing problem with opioid addiction in the coastal community of Boothbay Harbor, one of the area’s largest employers. Paul Coulombe, and a Southport summer resident, ophthalmologist Paul Schacknow, MD, PHD, have stepped forward to help find a solution. Coulombe and Schacknow have funded a program that will allow the purchase and distribution of Narcan. This medication is used to reverse deadly opioid overdosing and resuscitate affected individuals. It will be distributed by people that have completed education on the proper technique for its use and administration.

Coulombe said, “Just recently we saw an opioid death in our community. Now more than ever we need to put all the resources we can into coming up with a solution that eliminates these senseless deaths. I am proud to support this project through the Addiction Outreach Program.”

Schacknow added, “My wife grew up in Bangor and we have lived in the Boothbay region for 10 years. We want to contribute to the health of our adopted community. As a medical physician I am acutely aware of the heavy toll of the nationwide and local opioid addiction crisis. Our new Narcan project will truly save lives and builds upon the Addiction Outreach Program that several of us started in the BBH region.”

Since 2016, the Addiction Outreach Program and the Boothbay Harbor Police Department have worked together to improve the community response to people living with opioid use disorders. The Boothbay Region Community Resources Council hired Holly Stover to be the Program Director of the Addiction Outreach Program. Funded exclusively by private donations from the community, the Program Director position is in place to assist with referrals to access treatment, aftercare, and connections to community resources.

Stover added, “In collaboration with our partners, we will increase community education and awareness of opiate overdoses and overdose deaths. In 2019, Maine Health and the Coulombe Center for Health Improvement have committed to provide Narcan education.”

In 2016 there were 386 opioid related deaths in Maine and in 2017, the death rate rose to 418 or 11 percent from the previous year. In the first six months of 2018, there were 180 opioid related deaths in Maine, down slightly from 185 for the six-month period one year earlier.