Love Lock Fence: the key to ending the drug addiction stigma

4 mins read

 JAY — The Love Lock Fence in Jay, Maine has been generating a sense of community for families who have lost loved ones. The project is in memoriam of families who have lost someone to drug overdose, domestic violence, or suicide. Erica Poland is the founder of this initiative in the community, and the program started on her route to recovery from having a family member with an addiction. “It became my passion at that point to do something for overdose awareness and to end the stigma. To get it out what a problem this is in our area. So I decided to start the Love Lock fence right in front of my home.” 

Patience Merchant hangs up an overdose awareness flag above the Love Lock fence in Jay.

Poland has been adding to the project since she started it a few months ago, with just two sides, but has now grown to be more inclusive, in hopes of creating a awareness for all sorts of loss in our communities wherever it shows up,“When I completed the Domestic Violence side and overdose side I decided that I just wasn’t done yet,” says Poland. She went on to add a section for children who have died from Infant Death Syndrome and suicide. Poland knows that her work isn’t over yet, and will continue to add to the project beyond victims. Anyone who has lost someone and wants to remember them can leave a lock. 

The community has grown so wide that there are locks from as far away as California, but the hope is more people will come and contribute. 

From left, sections of the fence are dedicated to overdose awareness, infant loss awareness and suicide awareness.

By addressing the negative stigma and sharing her own experiences Poland reminds us that, “Their family still loves them, and they still deserve a memorial.” It’s easy to have a negative mindset about overdose victims, but through the Nar-Anon program Poland has changed her thinking significantly and hopes with this initiative others will do the same,. “One of my biggest statements is be kind. You never know what someone is battling.” 

Poland is now a host of her own Nar-Anon and Nar-Anon-teen meetings, and encourages people to reach out to her if they need help or are looking for a community. Nar-Anon is for the family of the addict who have been affected by the addiction. Poland speaks from her own experience with Nar-Anon, “I thought if I fought hard enough I could fix him, but I quickly learned that Nar-Anon was for me. Nar-Anon was for me to fix me.” 

Erica Poland and Brysen Merchant put up the first lock for Brysen’s uncle Dakotah Poland who died of SIDS in 2006.

This is just the start for Poland, and she hopes that the community will participate and spread awareness. 

To get involved with the project and leave your own lock on the fence, you can get in touch on the Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/5101582206536182/  or go to the location and leave it but be mindful of the overgrowing bushes! The fence is located at 61 Main Street, Jay Maine 04239, and locks may be mailed to the address to be placed on the fence.

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