Narcan, Reducing Stigma, and why Matt Gagnon is Misguided

In today’s Pine Tree Politics, Matt Gagnon takes an unfortunate stance that perhaps our judgment of LePage’s veto of widespread availability of Naloxone is harsh. Gagnon writes,

“Does anyone out there truly believe that Gov. Paul LePage wants people to die?

The unfortunate truth is that yes, a lot of people do. So deeply held is the hatred for LePage by some, that many are not only saying that the governor is a hateful, spiteful person who wants people to die, they actually believe it.”

Mr. Gagnon, whether our governor wants people in active addiction to die is largely irrelevant. What is relevant is that his actions if allowed to stand will directly lead to unnecessary and avoidable deaths. I frankly don’t give a damn what his intentions are.

His decision was not based on fact. His statements are objectively false and deliberately misguided. Both you and the governor ignore the broader point of the legislation:

Widespread availability of Narcan does not simply make it more accessible to people who are active in addiction – it makes it accessible to family members, to community members, and to professionals who are not in law enforcement or the medical field.

Imagine watching a loved one dying and to know that if you lived in Massachusetts you could already possess the life saving measure.

Mr. Gagnon goes on to say,

“The governor’s critics howled, calling LePage an unconcerned monster, cold and indifferent to the death of Mainers facing addiction.

But that is tremendously unfair and does the debate about this very important issue a disservice.”

There really should be no more debate about Narcan than about any other life saving measure. Addiction is unique in a plethora of ways, not the least of which is that it is the only disease for which we have debate. For all other diseases, we rely on medical facts.

Finally, Mr. Gagnon, for you to suggest,

“What (the debate of Narcan) doesn’t deserve is demagoguery and hatred, and the assumption of the worst motivations in our public servants. That benefits no one.”

Please consider that hatred directed toward Mr. LePage is not a product of any one issue but rather for many of us is a response to his character, his public behavior, and the stance he and his administration have taken on many issues.

I’ve said many times before – what his administration has done in Section 17 alone amounts to nothing short of social Darwinism. I don’t hate the man but I sure as hell hate his positions and actions.

Please folks, reach out to your state senators and representatives and urge them to override the veto of  widespread Naloxone availability.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.