“I experienced a lot of bullying growing up and started drinking and smoking pot at age 14. I was with older kids, and I just wanted to be accepted. That very first time, I blacked out, and I was suicidal. But I wanted more. I wanted to be liked. To escape, feel numb.” – Alicia

Read Alicia's Story
I was a three-star athlete I did well in school until my junior year. I played soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse. By my senior year though, I was drinking and smoking pot heavily. One day I took Vicodin. It was better than I had ever felt with alcohol or pot. It took me completely out of myself and that’s what I wanted.

I had a really good teacher who pushed me to complete my studies, but I barely graduated. My mom and dad never knew the extent of my using. And I was really good at hiding things.

By my sophomore year in college, I knew I had a problem and I got group counseling. The counselor, who was an intern, couldn’t do it anymore. It just became too much work to find another counselor and I didn’t want to deal with it. I dropped out my sophomore year, knowing I was disappointing my mom and dad, letting them down. But I just wanted them to leave me alone. I thought I was fine, but I know my addiction got worse after I dropped out of college.

When I was 21, I was arrested for operating a car under the influence, and lost my license. I was in an abusive relationship. I got evicted from my apartment. Then my mom helped me get into rehab. Eventually, I found an apartment, got one-one-one counseling and everything was good. I stayed sober for four years. I was doing great—I had a job, I was going to school, had a good relationship, and connected with my family again. Even though I was sober, my mental health always played a big role in my addiction. My mood was up and down. I felt out of control…and my skills went out the window. I wanted to die. I consciously decided to use heroin. It was easy, accessible to me and that’s what I wanted. The first time, I snorted it. But when I watched my friend injecting it, I saw how fast she got high, I wanted that! I hated needles, so I had her shoot me up. I was off and running from there.

When you’re not working, you do whatever you can to get high—sell drugs, steal, sleeping with people for drugs. And when you are an IV drug user, you share needles; you just want to get high. I had such disregard for my life. I’d get up, I’d get high. Get high at home; get high in the car—I got shot up with heroin while I was driving. I’d get high at least four times a day, spending $250-$300 a day. You lie, you steal, you manipulate. It’s all a consequence of when you’re using and drinking.

In May 2015, I overdosed three times. The first time it was really scary. I was disoriented, passing out, couldn’t form words. I woke up with someone telling me that I had just overdosed. An addict isn’t going to stop unless they get help and treatment. Narcan saved my life, and clean needles helped prevent IV-transmitted diseases. Those overdoses happened at my apartment. The third one happened in a Walmart parking lot.

By 2015, I was in a psychosis—due to mental health and drug use. When I was arrested for burglary, I went to jail. But it absolutely saved my life. It took the drugs away from me. I was in a safe place. And I finally admitted to my mom that I was doing heroin. One night, I got on my hands and knees. I was scared that someone would walk by and see me praying and make fun of me. But in desperation, I asked God for help.

‘God, I’m ready to grow up,’ I said out loud. The next day, I got health insurance, got accepted into a drug and alcohol treatment program, and went into rehab for nine months. I learned skills to handle my mental health and substance abuse. I got my family back, made friends with other sober people. And I found a true friend for the first time in my life.

Now I’m on probation. With help from my Counselor Sally, I learned the skills to continually stay sober. To make good decisions…to boost my self-esteem…to find sober activities to keep me safe and healthy.

When you are using, your whole life is falling apart. Support from counseling, family, sober friends—all played a big part in my recovery. I have been sober two and a half years. And I have never felt better. Life is good. ~Alicia

As one of Maine’s five counties with the highest opioid-related deaths; York County currently holds the number two spot. In just one year, York Hospital cared for 37 overdoses in our Emergency Department! With your help we can change this!

Our new addiction treatment & recovery program—The Recovery Center at York Hospital—will open its doors this month/April 2018 to our first patients suffering from Opioid and other addictions; to treat dependence issues and for the prevention of accidental overdose.

A group of York Hospital medical providers, led by Dr. Jill George, will be able to prescribe anti-craving medications to patients to aid in the treatment of substance use disorders. This along with the highly skilled team of licensed counselors at York Hospital will make up the new Recovery Center team.

This “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders—through a combination of medication and therapy will:
Provide rapid access to clinical evaluation and treatment
Offer services within 48 hours – because patients need treatment when they are ready!
Extend care beyond the 24-week intensive, outpatient program, with continued access to medical-assisted treatment.

Your support will impact in the lives of our recovery patients through these community health priorities:
Training Recovery Coaches who guide and support patients in long-term recovery from addiction—reducing relapses, helping with life goals like work, education and relationships. And each recovery coach will each be able to help 30 patients!
Providing patient transportation service to The Recovery Center after hours
Offering lectures and group meetings to help sustain our patients and The Recovery Center.
Providing treatment medication
Making Narcan rescue medication kits accessible and affordable

Other notes to include?
Perhaps you have struggled, or know of someone with a drug and/or alcohol problem, and wonder why they don’t get treatment they need? Some just aren’t ready to stop using…others may not know where to go for treatment, or worry about how society sees them, feel ashamed; judging without knowing what they had gone through in life. And some don’t have health coverage.

Whether it’s a loved one seeking guidance about how to help a family member with a substance use disorder, or someone in need of assistance for a personal situation.

This is just one story of a young woman from our own community who has struggled with addiction.
The only way to see what happens is to look at individual human beings, one be one.
Just because they are suffering doesn’t mean they lack dignity. They are not deviants. They are ordinary citizens, our neighbors, our family members, our friends, our co-workers.

“I do not understand the concept of social drinking. I don’t know how someone can drink half a cocktail and walk away from it.”  -Colleen

Read Colleen's Story

I had a brain that would never shut off at bedtime. The only way I could quell that anxiety was to drink. I’d watch the clock and when it was 4:59 pm, I would get butterflies in my stomach, knowing I could start drinking. It was the one thing I looked forward to. By 9pm I would be passed out. I’d wake to find a blanket over me and knew it was my daughter who had covered me. I am a blackout drinker.


Ironically, it was a bacterial strep infection in my leg which could have taken my life—that actually saved my life. Because it got me to stop drinking. At that point I was literally drinking to stay alive. When I didn’t have alcohol in my system. My hands would shake so badly I had to drink before I could even bring a fork to my mouth. Or put on my mascara.

At work I passed out cold at my desk. I woke up to find my boss standing over me, shaking her head saying, “Get out of here now!” Nothing mattered to me at this point. And when my husband asked me to leave. I was relieved. I had no one bugging me about my drinking, anymore.

I didn’t care about anything then, only when, and how much I could get my hands on. I grew up in a very privileged home, yet now I’d lost my home, my marriage, my family, and my job. I was homeless, living in my car for six months.

I never was honest with my doctor about the extent to which I was drinking The counselors at York Hospital helped me understand my disease, deal with everyday life, and not feel ashamed that I have this disease. It’ll eight be eight months since I’ve been sober. And this is honestly the first time in years that I am truly happy. I thought the best I could ask for was to be content. And last summer, for the first time in years, I had a belly laugh.

“At 42, I’d lost a marriage, my family, my license, a number of jobs and my profession as a psychologist. Addiction has taken me from the suburbs to the streets.” -Daniel

Read Daniel's Story

At 42, I’d lost a marriage, my family, my license, a number of jobs and my profession as a psychologist. Addiction has taken me from the suburbs to the streets.


It doesn’t matter where you come from, your education, or the amount of money you have. Addiction is a great leveler.

Addiction is a disease of denial—and the worst of the lies are the ones you tell yourself.
You believe you have control when you really don’t. You have a relationship with the drug. I knew it was wrecking my life, but I couldn’t imagine living without it. And I really didn’t believe I had the right to expect anything better.

Recovery is about rebuilding connections with other people.
Sobriety is my happy ending. And finally being able to accept my addiction. Understand that addiction was about disconnection from myself, others, social fabric. And that recovery is about RE-connecting – seeing myself honestly, building a life. Getting better is not about will-power. ~Dave, York

Letter from Dave titled, Addiction / Alcoholism – Is Driven by Self-Centered Fear

So, what’s your happy ending?

“Recovery has forced me to fundamentally change the person I was when I became addicted to alcohol and other drugs. I had to become rigorously honest with myself about who I had become and how that impacted my life as well as those who cared about me. I had to take responsivity for my behaviors and how they had impacted the lives of others.

Addiction was my disconnect from life. As I move ahead in recovery, I reconnect with myself, those around me and the constructive possibilities for my living as part of something greater than myself (spiritual reconnect). Maintaining connection with other sober persons, both peers and professionals (such as those one finds at the Recovery Center) is the most important support one can have. Others on the recovery journey cared for me when I could not care for myself. They showed me that I was a ‘sick’ personal rather than a ‘bad’ person. They gave proof positive that change could happen then offered Hope, Faith and Guidance.

Today, I am a better person than I’ve ever been. I show up for Life and live fully.
My heart is open – I can pass on to others what was so freely given to me.

I Accept myself as I Am.
I Accept Others as they Are.
I Accept Life As it Is.

I give what I can to helping others.
I trust in the goodness of benevolent spiritual Powers.
And to an underlying / abiding purpose to Living – which is simply, Loving.

At York Hospital we respect everyone who comes to us for help—and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while this story is true, the names of our patients have been changed to protect their privacy. Thank you for understanding.


We are happy to report that York Hospital will hit the road, literally, with our 2019 holiday spirit, participating in the holiday parades and events below.

Our theme this year will be more merry
than ever. . . more details about all of these events will be shared in upcoming newsletters. All are encouraged to cheer us on and be part of the festivities! If you are interested in being part of the York Hospital “float-illa” in any of the parades, mark your calendars now and please give a shout out to Friendraising at (207) 351-2385 or email

    The fun begins at 5p, when York Hospital elves will share holiday whoopie pies in Downtown Kennebunk
    while Santa lights the Christmas tree in Kennebunk’s Tibbetts Plaza!
    Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa Claus will stop in for a breakfast buffet in York Hospital’s Dining Room on Friday, December 6th from 7:30a to 9:30a. YH staff members’ families, along with area families, are invited to stop in for a chat with Santa and receive a small toy!
    The parade begins at 5:30p. The parade route (approx. ½ mile) begins on Main Street at Dairy Queen and ends at The MidTown Mall.
    Downtown South Berwick will come alive with its annual holiday celebration on Friday, December 6th from 5p to 7p. Local stores and businesses will stay open and the streets will be filled with music, people, crafts and yummy treats. York Hospital in South Berwick will be in the thick of it with holiday whoopie pies, coffee and hot chocolate, and fun activities for the family!
    The parade begins at 4:30p at Foster’s Clambakes at Axholme Road, finishing at Village Elementary School!
    The parade begins at 3p at Post Office Square and will follow the traditional route through downtown Kittery and conclude at the John Paul Jones Park with the tree lighting.
    The 33rd annual parade begins at 3p. Plan to arrive before 2p at the parking lot across from “That Place in Ogunquit” restaurant, at the entrance to Perkins Cove. The parade route follows Shore Road to Ogunquit Center, down Beach Street, ending in the Lower Lot on River Road around 4p
    The 34th annual parade begins at 2p at The Wells Plaza on Route 1. If you’d like to join us on the float, meet at YH in Wells at 1p.  Leave your car there and we'll take the float to the parade and back when done at approximately 3p.

Provider Spotlight!

Dr. James Stuart, Surgery Associates of York Hospital, has been on staff here in York since January of 1974. While the “usual” background information regarding his education and medical training
is interesting to know, even more interesting is the institutional history and the anecdotal information that Dr. Stuart has stored up the sleeves of his white coat after more than four decades of being a provider and a caregiver at York Hospital! We would like to take this opportunity to share a bit of both types of information. Dr. Stuart received his BA from Albion College in Albion, Michigan, and his MD from | Wayne State University College of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. He completed a Rotating Internship at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine and a Residency in General Surgery, also at Maine Medical Center. Dr. Stuart is Certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a Fellow at the American College of Surgeons.

Back in the 1970s when Dr. Stuart joined York Hospital, there were no ambulances for the hospital. The local undertaker transported patients to the hospital in a vehicle similar to a modern hearse. When ambulances did start being used to transport patients to York Hospital, it was Dr. Stuart who trained the first EMTs riding on the ambulances. In 1974 there were 10 physicians total at York Hospital. If you stop Dr. Stuart in the hall today, he will still be able to tell you their names and what most of their work schedules were! On most Saturdays, the physicians would eat lunch in the cafeteria together – oftentimes with other employees or patients’ families. Another example of the kind of tight-knit community that defined York Hospital even back in the 1970s is that when Dr. Stuart performed surgeries, the assistant in the OR was typically the patient’s referring doctor, as opposed to another general surgeon or first assist.

These anecdotes illustrate that the philosophy of Loving Kindness has been an important aspect of how York Hospital has grown over the past four decades, and that Loving Kindness has guided Dr. Stuart as a physician, a caregiver and a colleague for more than 40 years. Kudos to Dr. Stuart—thank you for being an ambassador for York Hospital and a role model for all of us!