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Harm Reduction Tools Save Lives

Drug-related deaths in Maine are still on the rise. According to the Maine CDC, the number of heroin-related fatalities almost quadrupled from 2002 to 2013 and the numbers continue to climb at an alarming rate. The number of overdose deaths varies from year to year with most of those being attributed to Opioids such as heroin, fentanyl and oxycodone.


No matter the statistic, one death is too many, especially when overdose deaths are preventable. In an effort to minimize drug-related deaths, Healthy Acadia is offering two methods of harm reduction that can easily be obtained during this COVID-19 pandemic.


Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic, is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and can be lethal. Just a minuscule amount can kill the user and quite often, the person using is not even aware they are using Fentanyl. Fentanyl has no taste or smell and is being cut into an unknown amount of substances, including an increasing number of street drugs. Healthy Acadia can provide Fentanyl test strips for individuals or organizations upon request, so that they may test a substance to determine if Fentanyl is present. When the user is aware that the substance that they are using contains Fentanyl, they can make the decision to use less, use with a buddy so there is someone present should an overdose occur, or choose not to use at all.


Narcan, a medication used to block the effects of opioids, is another potentially life-saving tool. When someone is overdosing, the receptors in their brain that tell them to breathe are blocked by the opioid. When administered to someone who is overdosing, Narcan removes the block on those receptors, signaling the body to breathe again.


“These harm reduction tools are vital for saving lives,” said Beth Alteri, Recovery Volunteer Coordinator with Healthy Acadia. “People who are using are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and children. They are loved. A life is a life, no matter the decisions or mistakes made. It is incredible to know we are giving people the opportunity to protect and save lives, giving those who are in active drug use a second chance at living the life they deserve.”


Healthy Acadia is offering Fentanyl test strips and Narcan at no cost to individuals and organizations upon request. If you or your organization would like to have either, or both, of these potentially life-saving tools on hand, simply complete Healthy Acadia’s online form: and these life-saving tools will either be delivered or shipped to you.


For more information contact Beth Alteri at [email protected] or (207) 460-2312.


Healthy Acadia is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that engages in a broad range of initiatives to build healthier communities and make it easier for people to lead healthy lives across Washington and Hancock counties, Maine. Learn more at

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