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Born to Drugs:
Maine’s most innocent victims

Courtney Allen hugs Eleanor Trask as they both celebrate three-year anniversaries of not using drugs in November, at a Young People in Recovery meeting at South Parish Congregational Church UCC in Augusta. Photo by Yoon S. Byun.

About this series

Nearly 6,000 babies have been born affected by drugs in Maine in the past five years. These innocent victims are caught in a crisis that is marked by suffering and strained hospitals and state resources. In this series of often gut-wrenching stories, Pine Tree Watch examines the challenges within this sad reality.

Drug-free for three years after battling addictions since age 12, mom and advocate Courtney Allen looks to a healthy future with her sons

by | December 2, 2018

The week before her 22nd birthday, Courtney Allen overdosed three times.

For a decade, she had struggled with poverty, trauma and addictions to alcohol, heroin, Ritalin and cocaine.

“I belonged more to the dead than the living,” she recalls.

RELATED STORY  Many Maine women with opiate addictions are limited as to where they can go for birth control

On that February 2015 birthday morning, she woke to vague memories of a fight and the police arriving to quiet the disturbance. Courtney panicked and worried about what may have happened to her sons, Wyatt, 8, and Aimin, who was nearly 3. She ran to their room and found them watching TV. Their eyes were wide and their frightened expressions jolted Courtney awake.

“In that brief moment of clarity, I could see where it was going to end for them. I could see that they were going to end up being just like me. They had so much pain on their faces.”

On that bleak morning, Courtney knew she had to seek treatment.

More Stories

Meant to love and care for special babies

An experienced foster mom refuses to give up on her opiate-exposed infant

Desperate to change

After losing custody of her first five daughters, a Maine woman is determined to stay drug free so that she can mother her sixth baby girl

Piercing cries and a state of crisis

Nearly three drug-affected babies were born each day in Maine from 2013-2017, severely taxing hospitals, the foster care system and other resources


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Maine Trust Project: Myron M. Beasley

When Myron Beasley moved to Maine 11 years ago to take a position teaching African American studies and American cultural studies at Bates College in Lewiston, he was determined to reach beyond the borders of the Bates campus to make connections with people in his new community.

As someone who has lived in and traveled to many places across the globe – Myron grew up in Israel, was schooled in Europe and the United States, and has done ethnographic field work in Haiti, Brazil, Morocco, and the United States, including here in Maine – he knows how to create community wherever he is.

Get to Know Myron M. Beasley

Maine Trust Project: Marie Harnois of Jackman

Four years ago – during the “coldest December ever” – Marie Harnois found herself doing something she couldn’t have imagined before: installing hoses to collect sap from sugar maple trees.

If you didn’t count the time as a child when she’d helped a friend’s family with their 30 buckets, Marie had not run a maple sugaring business before, and yet, here she was trying to do just that – and freezing her fingers in the process.

Get to Know Marie Harnois
Maine Trust Project: Joe Black of Bath

Joe Black is a man living his dream. With a light in his eyes, a quick smile and a sense of humor that invites you in, he stocks shelves and engages customers at Renys department store on Front Street in Bath. He’s been doing his dream job for more than 20 years and says it’s the perfect job for him.

“I’m a firm believer that there are different kinds of dreams,” he said. “Some people want to be rock stars. Some people … want to be president. These are big, huge dreams – and big, huge dreams are awesome – but there’s nothing wrong with little dreams.”

Get to Know Joe Black
Maine Trust Project: Joe Black of Bath

Finding common ground and engaging in civil conversations about important issues facing our communities, our state, our country and our world can seem elusive, if not sadly impossible.

In our second installment of "The Maine Trust Project", we speak with Mike Douglas of Augusta, for whom trust is about wholeheartedly investing in relationships, believing he'll get out of them what he puts into them.

Get to Know Mike Douglas
Maine Trust Project: Joe Black of Bath

Every day, 83-year-old Mary Betterley and her border terrier Raymond, aka, The Mayor, walk down the hill from their condo in Damariscotta to Main Street. Having lived in town for 40 years, Mary is greeting or greeted all along her way by most of those who are out and about.

Trust, for Mary, is a default position – she trusts unless given a reason not to. This attitude extends even to taking a risk with her life, as she did at age 65, when she found herself placing her toes on the edge of Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge at A.J. Hackett’s Bungy Centre outside Queenstown, New Zealand.

Get to Know Mary Betterley