Chantel St. Laurent: Treatment, not incarceration, needed for recovery

I am a person in long-term recovery, celebrating five years. I am a mother of two young children. I am a full-time student at the University of Southern Maine, graduating this year with my bachelor’s and planning to get my master’s. I work two jobs, including as a certified alcohol and drug counselor.

I see people get their foot in the door at treatment, just to be pulled out by the justice system. People reach out for help, only to be put on a waiting list for months due to limited funding and available resources. I see people gain traction and stability in their recovery, only to be denied housing and employment because of previous charges.

At one time, I was homeless, living out of my car, jumping from place to place with my 2-year-old little girl. I could not go a day without using. I was full of shame and guilt. I had been arrested multiple times, but instead of being isolated with incarceration I was afforded the opportunity to seek treatment.

I attended over seven different facilities before I found recovery. What I needed was to heal from my trauma through connection. I needed to know I was not alone.

Providing people with treatment is far more affordable than incarcerating folks, but this is not the point. The next person we lose will be someone’s son or daughter. Please stand with me in support of LD 967, “An Act to Make Personal Possession of Drugs for Personal Use a Civil Penalty.”

Chantel St. Laurent, Lewiston

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