A new program in Lewiston, Maine says they don't encourage addiction recovery, but they also don't encourage drug use either. They say that their goal is to 'meet people where they are' and to help provide clean needle exchanges, Narcan, smoking supplies and other items to those Mainers struggling with addiction.

According to WMTW, in addition to the aforementioned items, the group also aims to supply fentanyl testing strips to Mainers as well. The program is called The Church of Safe Injection, and says their intention is to 'provide clean needles' as well as helping to prevent the spread and contraction of diseases such as HIV.

Under current Maine law, people seeking clean needles must first turn in or 'exchange' previously used needles to obtain a new one. However, a bill in the Maine legislature (LD 1909) is aiming to rescind that part of the law. Some legislators want to do away with people needing to 'exchange' their needles altogether and just be able to get new ones as needed.

WMTM News 8 says that last year in Maine (2021) there were 636 overdose deaths. Proponents for The Church of Safe Injection and other similar Maine programs believe that number could have been much higher without clean needle exchange and Narcan distribution.

Though The Church of Safe Injection is currently only in Lewiston at 195 Main Street, leaders say they have plans to spread to other areas like Dixfield, Bethel, Westbrook and Rumford.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and would like help, call 2-1-1 in Maine.

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