In Bangor Friday evening, a crowd gathered in Pickering Square to observe National Overdose Awareness Day.
“We're here to think about the 418 Mainers we lost last year to opioid overdoses,” said Andrea Littlefield of Health Equity Alliance.
Littlefield says it's not clear why Maine has such a problem with opioid addiction compared to some other places, but said that socio-economic issues and stress over housing and employment may play roles.
“I think, too, we have a lot of people who work blue collar jobs, get injured on the job...pain addicted from that,” she said.
Littlefield said other changes also need to be made; for example the medication isn't a "get out of jail free card" as some critics have said, but an opportunity to get better.
"The basic thing is that dead people don't recover, so you need to give somebody an opportunity to make that change,” she said. “If they've overdosed and don't come back to life, they don't have that opportunity and, in a lot of cases, they're leaving behind children, they're leaving behind parents, they're leaving behind family members, and they should be given every opportunity to make that change."
The group was trying to raise more than $31 thousand to provide 418 overdose reversal kits – one for each life lost last year. As of Friday night, Littlefield said the group had a long way to go to reach that goal.