On Tuesday, Sept. 6, Dr. Ira Mandel and the Knox County Recovery Coalition will hold a community conversation regarding the opiate addiction epidemic gripping Knox County, at 7 p.m. at the Camden Public Library.

Mandel will provide an overview about the extent of the epidemic and how it affects many babies, children, young adults, parents, and grandparents — entire families — affecting more than a thousand people in Knox County. KCRC will address the failure of state and local government and healthcare systems to break this cycle of addiction and to offer any organized effort to address drug addiction in Knox County, issues that KCRC has already begun to address. Actions and programs undertaken by KCRC will be described.

In order for the KCRC to be as successful as possible in its mission to prevent more people from becoming addicted, to help those already affected, and to heal family and friends from the widespread effects of addiction, involvement of the whole community is needed. This meeting will engage participants in a community conversation about these issues to foster broad-based solutions to the these problems that undermines the overall health of Knox County.

Reservations are not required but are encouraged, to allow KCRC to prepare for the event. Please email knoxrecovery@gmail.com or call 558-3525 regarding your planned attendance. The event is open to all.

Mandel, one of only three doctors in Knox County who prescribe opiate replacement medication, says he gets 100 desperate calls a month.

As reported by the Free Press, Dr. Mandel said at a recent forum in Rockland, “People with addictions are us. They’re not them. Patients include business owners, store owners, secretaries, many lobstermen, carpenters, painters, landscapers, waitresses, bartenders, computer programmers, several mental health professionals, hospital employees, real estate agents, hotel workers, foresters, taxi drivers and I even have several law enforcement professionals amongst my patients. So it truly is our community.”

Many of the callers say they got addicted to opiates after being prescribed opioid pain relievers for an illness or injury, but found the drug also temporarily blocked other problems — severe depression, mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, or various adverse childhood experiences. Before they knew it, they were hooked and taking the drugs just to prevent themselves from going into severe withdrawal.

Counseling and therapy sessions can help break the mental addiction to the drugs, but addiction physicians say fewer than 10 percent of people with opiate addictions will be successful without medication-assisted treatment.