Please lend a hand to prevent substance abuse in rural Maine!

Please lend a hand to prevent substance abuse in rural Maine!

14 have signed. Let’s get to 25!

Why this petition matters

Started by Pamela Gasek

 The Issue: Helping Hands Community Substance Abuse Prevention & Recovery is a social justice change petition for the Penobscot and Piscataquis rural Northern Maine counties. Substance abuse tends to ravage rural areas that have the highest levels of poverty and unemployment, and limited access to quality healthcare.  According to Gordon Smith, the Director of Opioid Response, in these Maine counties of no more than 5,000 people, 600 died of drug overdoses in 2020 (, 2022). Additionally, in 2017, 952 infants out of 13,000 births (about 7%) were born addicted to, and seriously affected by opiates, fentanyl, heroin and other drugs (Shepherd, 2019).  Overdoses, substance use disorders, and addiction, devastate families and destroy the foundation of communities.  

Most people suffering with drug and alcohol addictions also have mental disorders, and the opposite is also true that many people with mental disorders suffer from substance use disorders (Byrnes & Suneson, 2020). This vicious cycle has to stop!

The Solution:  We need immediate outreach to encourage education, support, prevention, and funds for a central meeting place to encourage substance-free activities and support healthier lifestyles. Creation of a “Helping Hands Community Center” would provide a place for those suffering from addiction, and seeking recovery, together with friends and family interacting in a healthy drug and alcohol-free space. This will have a ripple effect throughout the economy and will boost employment, increase mental and physical health, lower healthcare costs, and most importantly, bring the entire community together.

The Ask: Please sign the petition and post on social media. We will bring the petition to our local Maine town leaders and state representatives to create task forces to empower change. We are also applying for a government grant for $125,000 called the “Drug-Free Communities Support Program” (RHIhub, 2022). We have to build resilience in our rural communities to stop the cycle of addiction. Please lend a hand to others in need, as together we can make a difference!


Byrnes, H. & Suneson, G. (2020, March 13) This is the Maine county with the worst drug problem. 24/7 Wall St. Article Link (2019, January 24). Gordon Smith Article Link

Rural Health Information Hub. (2022). Drug-free communities support program. RHIhub. RHI Hub Article Link

Sheperd, M. (2019, January 24). Mills picks veteran medical lobbyist to lead campaign against opioid addiction. Fiddlehead Focus. Fiddlehead Focus Article Link

14 have signed. Let’s get to 25!