Free screening of ‘Compassion Cures’ Feb. 12
On the evening of Monday, Feb. 12 the Lincoln Theater doors open for a free event. The Theater is partnering with Healthy Lincoln County and Better Life Partners to offer a public screening of “Compassion Cures: Building Hope by Overcoming Stigma,” a Maine-made documentary about the role of compassion in the community response to substance use issues. The film includes the voices of people in recovery and their families, as well as various professionals who interact with substance use in different ways. The effect is to show how all sectors of society are affected by substance use, and how we all have a role to play in overcoming the stigma that surrounds addiction and recovery.
Compassion Cures was created by Laura Morris of Better Life Partners, a substance use treatment organization serving New Hampshire and Maine. Laura is their Community Partnership Development Manager and works to connect individuals to Medicine Assisted Treatment and substance use counseling services. Prior to working with Better Life Partners, Laura was director of the Be the Influence Coalition in Windham. Like Lincoln County’s Substance Use Prevention Partnership, Be the Influence works to provide community level interventions to prevent and delay the onset of substance use disorders. It was during her time in that role that she began developing the project that would become Compassion Cures:
“I originally created this film when I was in youth drug prevention,” said Morris, “as a way to represent a collaborative collection of voices from all segments of a community, confirming that Substance Use Disorder is a disease like any other. It can happen to anyone, and it is time that we start treating it with the same compassion as diabetes or heart disease.”
Although medical science has long recognized substance use as a complex health issue, many still regard it as a character flaw. This stigma affects both those who could be helpful and those in need of help. People struggling with SUD often don’t seek care because they believe they should be able to will their way to recovery and never ask for help. Morris put it succinctly: “Stigma is the number one reason that those suffering won't seek help.”
Since completing the film, Morris has shown it in communities around the state (and beyond) to show “how each of us can come together to reduce stigma in our own backyard.” Since the earliest screenings, Morris has made sure to pair the film with a panel discussion comprised of local experts to root the conversation in a hyper-local context. Local leaders join the discussion, and local resources are on offer in the wings.
To that end, Healthy Lincoln County has pulled together an all-star lineup of Lincoln County community members well-placed to share the message of compassion as a cure. The panelists include our local Options liaison, Nick Loscocco; CLC YMCA’s Director of Community Navigation, Karen-Ann Hagar-Smith; Damariscotta Police Chief, Jason Warlick; and Abigail Boudin, Coordinator of the Lincoln County Recover Community Center. Substance Use Prevention Partnership Co-chair, Corinne Pratt, who runs the non-profit, Bridging Education, will also join the panel, which will be facilitated by Healthy Lincoln County’s Substance Use Prevention Coordinator, Will Matteson.
The panelists will work together to show how the whole community is touched by substance use, and how compassion is the key ingredient to every level of our response. But a small handful of professionals cannot solve the problems of overdose and Substance Use Disorder alone. Reducing stigma is the work of the whole community, and Compassion Cures aims to show what that could look like. “It takes a village,” said Morris, “and that village is you.”
The screening will take place at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12. The event is free and open to the public. The Theater is located at 2 Theater St., Damariscotta.