The Samoset Resort in Rockport was the location of our 2017 District Conference. Our Guatemala Water Project was featured in the House of Friendship which lead to additional clubs coming on board as partners on the project.
Much of the weekend was focused on the opioid crisis facing Maine. On Friday, several attendees created banners for use by the local MCRC (MidCoast Recovery Center) at summer events.  Saturday included a panel discussion on opioid misuse featuring Kennebunk Police Chief and Kennebunk Club Past President Bob MacKenzie, and recovering addict Ashley Hurteau who shared her story.
We learned some astonishing facts about addition. For example, 1 in 10 babies in Maine are born to addicted mothers. It costs about $5K per year to treat substance abuse, but $50-100K to incarcerate. The rate of drug overdose deaths is higher than deaths from auto accidents and the relapse rate for addiction is about the same as for other chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes. Most importantly, long term addiction causes chemical changes in the brain. Reversing these changes can take time, requiring long term treatment. Like any disease, there is no one course of treatment that works for all. Counseling, faith-based resources, chemical substitution, residential recovery, meditation, yoga, job assistance, all can play a role in recovery. When an addict is in recovery, there is a 37% increase in employment and a 52% increase in children living with their biological parent.
We also learned about projects underway in several clubs. The Kennebunk Club has a mentoring program for youth offenders. The Biddeford Saco Club has the Red Ribbon Committee that works with the community to promote healthy choices through youth education. The Portsmouth Club has provided funding to open the Safe Harbor Recovery Center.  Finally, Saturday evening’s speaker was Andrew Kiezulas, a recent USM Graduate in Chemistry and co-founder of the Recovery Oriented Campus Center.