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Sara's Story of Resilience

With a smile that lights up a room and unbridled optimism apparent with every word, Sara embodies the true spirit of resilience. Her story is as unique, as are the diverse experiences of an increasing population of people who live with a substance use disorder. We are grateful that Sara is courageous enough to share what she has learned so that others will know there is hope and that they are not alone in their journey to recovery.

After an accident in 2006 Sara was prescribed Percocet to manage her pain. That was the start of a downward spiral of substance misuse and life challenges, culminating in the passing of her beloved grandmother. Her grief was so debilitating that she resorted to methamphetamines to help her sleep and had even begun smoking crack. When faced with migraines she resorted to Oxycodone pills, secured without a prescription, to get through the days. It was a recipe for heartache.

“Losing my kids was awful and my life was just out of control. I had nowhere safe to stay. No treatment I tried seemed to work. I was sick of detoxing all the time.”

Finally, at the urging of her mom, she called Maine Behavioral Healthcare (MBH).

“With that first call I just knew this was different. These people really seemed to care and understand me without judging or making me feel like I was a ‘junkie’.”

Integrated Medication Assisted Treatment

Fueled by an unwavering desire to regain custody of her children, Sara embraced treatment as a way to turn her life around. The program meant attending intensive treatment three hours every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Despite lacking means of transportation she gladly walked the distance each way, in all kinds of weather.

Dr. Joseph Scott is a psychiatrist on our substance use disorder treatment team. Dr. Scott works at the MBH Integrated Medication Assisted Treatment (IMAT) program in Springvale, one of several intensive treatment locations within the MaineHealth system of care. Sara’s treatment team also included a counselor and access to peer support. As part of the IMAT program, clients receive behavioral and counseling therapies along with medication that reduces opioid craving and symptoms of withdrawal. 

“She (Sara) always speaks during our medication and therapy groups, and sees me and her therapist on a regular basis,” said Dr. Scott. “I am so proud of her. When she came to us she really threw herself into the program and has become an advocate and cheerleader for our patients -- even encouraging others to begin treatment.”

For the past three years she has tested negative for any illicit substances and remains dedicated to keeping up with her treatment. She regained custody of her children, purchased a home and is in a healthy relationship. Most recently, she received certification to become a peer recovery coach so she can help others.

When asked what motivates someone to enter treatment, Sara said without hesitation, “For me it was all about my kids. It means saying, ‘I’m done with this – it’s not worth it any more’. Now that I got the right treatment I’m in a great place. I got this!”

Integrated Medication-Assisted Treatment (IMAT)

IMAT combines talk therapy (either individual or group counseling) with medicines that can control cravings and lessen withdrawal symptoms. The medicines help a person feel normal again so they can focus on therapy and help rebuild their life.

What is opioid use disorder?

OUD is a chronic (or constant) brain disease that some people can get from taking opioids often. This type of disease leads to craving opioids, not being able to stop using opioids, and can cause major life problems.