AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage has invited a woman who is recovering from heroin addiction to Augusta to discuss how the state can address its drug addiction problem.
Rosanna Boyce of Lewiston, who reached out to LePage via email earlier this month, said Wednesday morning that she is eager to meet with LePage.
“I absolutely want to meet with him,” Boyce said. “He responded to my email and said he wanted to read my term paper that I have written. I asked for a date and time that he’d be willing to meet. I was surprised how quickly he responded.”
Boyce, 30, wrote in her letter to LePage that her addiction started with a prescription to OxyContin, an opioid painkiller, when she was a teenager.
“The doctors didn’t care that I had no idea that the medication designed to help me did more hurt than it ever did good,” Boyce said. “And no one in the aftermath cared that I felt like I was never given a choice. I’m not a victim. Once an adult I realized that I had a severe addiction issue and I made my choices.”
Those choices included turning to heroin, which she found stronger and cheaper than the prescription medication.
Boyce said her addiction led to a heroin trafficking conviction and losing custody of her two eldest children. She said treatment at Mercy Hospital saved her life and that she has been sober since Sept. 23, 2008.
She is working on a bachelor’s degree and recently wrote a term paper. LePage asked for a copy of her paper and outlined his support of a $150 million upgrade to the Windham Correctional Facility that will create 200 new beds for detoxification, rehabilitation and outpatient services for people struggling with addiction.
“Believe me, I get it,” LePage wrote to Boyce. “The sad part is the Legislature doesn’t get it. They are more satisfied to preach political rhetoric than help solve the problem. Yes, I want to save lives and we are about helping addicts. The bigger issue is it cannot happen in a hate environment. If you would like to meet, I would be happy to host you.”
Among other arguments by LePage against the Legislature in the fight against Maine’s opiate addiction crisis is his disappointment that lawmakers rejected his proposal to create harsher penalties for drug dealers.
Boyce, who said she intends to request clemency for her drug conviction, said she is concerned LePage is too focused on the law enforcement side of the equation.
“Locking up the drug dealer is only part of the battle,” she wrote. “An even bigger shame is punishing people for their addiction instead of commending them for getting help. Even worse than that? Making that help impossible to access. … If the governor ever wants to actually make a change that will mean anything, he’d start by talking to people like me.”
Boyce said her meeting with LePage has not yet been scheduled but that she hopes to talk directly to the governor as soon as possible.