After saving 10, Oxford County’s Project SaveMe needs some financial help

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PARIS — Patricia Plummer credits the Paris Police Department with helping her son get on the road to recovery for his heroin addiction through Project SaveME. Two upcoming fundraisers will assist the program in helping Oxford County residents overcome their drug dependence.

She shared during a recent roundtable with U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, that her 18-year-old niece died in September 2015 from a heroin overdose. Shortly after her death, Plummer’s 21-year-old came to her.

“He said, ‘Mama, I’m doing heroin, too,’” Plummer recalled.

Since he admitted his drug use, he has been revived by Narcan – a drug that reverses opioid overdoses – three times. Plummer wanted an officer to arrest her son and put him in jail so he would be away from the drugs.

“It’s not against the law to be high on heroin,” she explained. “My son tried to detox himself. He wanted to in the worse way. He would sit home for two or three days throwing up then he’d be gone. It’s a horrible thing to see.”

Plummer got in touch with Paris Interim Police Chief Jeff Lange, who started the Western Maine Addiction Task Force last summer to combat the growing heroin problem in the area.

From that grew Project SaveME, which is modeled after the Gloucester, Mass., Angel Program and pairs those battling addiction with “angels,” or recovery coaches, to help them through the recovery process.

Every police agency in Oxford County is participating in Project SaveME, according to Lange, and in January, 12 recovery coaches completed training for the program.

Plummer convinced her son to come down to the police department to speak with Lange.

“He was a little hesitant thinking that he didn’t trust the police department –  maybe because of past experiences,” Lange said. “We finally got through. He finally understood I wasn’t looking for information –  I was looking to help him. He cooperated and we got him some help.”

Plummer’s son was paired up with a recovery coach, who talked him out of relapsing recently, she said. His coach drove from the Farmington area down to Oxford Hills at 11 p.m. to help him cope with his crisis. Plummer noted parents and family can tell those battling addiction how much they love them, but these angels are making a difference.

“More of this kind of thing would be great,” she said.

Through Project SaveME, her son was sent to Milestone Foundation in Portland. He told Plummer the recovery center is similar to a homeless shelter.

“There’s people in there who look like zombies. [He said,] ‘Mom, I don’t want to be a zombie. It’s not fun anymore,’” she said. “I can’t give the Paris Police Department enough accolades.”

There are 10 people Project SaveME has helped, which includes Plummer’s son and a woman who called from the emergency room at Stephens Memorial Hospital last week.

Lange responded personally and said he was able to pair her with an angel and put her in touch with a facility in New Hampshire. She fortunately had health insurance.

“If they have insurance, then obviously more doors are open,” Lange said. “They’re able to get …  into a facility a lot faster obviously than someone that doesn’t. And there’s no beds still available in Maine. It’s the lack of resources.”

This is one the main reasons two fundraisers are slated – to help Project SaveME help people. The first is from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21, at Daddy O’s Restaurant at 1570 Main St. in Oxford. The meal is free, but donations are requested, which will be donated to Project SaveME.

The second fundraiser is the first-ever Guns and Hoses pancake breakfast presented by the Paris Police and Fire departments. It is 7 to 11 a.m. Sunday, May 1, at the Paris Fire Station, 137 Western Ave.

The cost of breakfast is $7, free for 5 and younger, and includes pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, juice and coffee. The proceeds will be split between Project SaveME and the Fire Prevention Program.

For more information about the Western Maine Addiction Task Force or Project SaveME, contact the Paris Police Department at 743-7448.

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