TRENTON — This week marks the two-year anniversary of sobriety for Bar Harbor resident Brian Tracy, who founded this area’s chapter of the Last Chance Motorcycle Club.
“My turning point with alcohol was at a concert [in 2008],” Tracy wrote in an email to the Islander. “I finally realized that being out of control with drinking wasn’t fun anymore. I missed out on too many parts of my life because of alcohol.”
Earlier this month, Tracy and the other members of Last Chance MC, all drug and alcohol free, hosted their first annual Poker Run and raised money to help others fighting the battle against addiction.
More than 30 people participated in the 60-mile ride. Each person paid a fee to participate and drew five cards for their hand at different stops along the route, with the first and last card drawn at the Beacon Bar and Grill. Food was provided by the restaurant and prizes were given to the top three hands.
“It’s our first one and we got over $1,000, which was more than we expected,” said Tracy, who recently presented the proceeds to the Acadia Family Center in Southwest Harbor. “We didn’t even know they existed until we decided to do this poker run.”
Acadia Family Center has been around for 30 years, offering counseling and support services to individuals who are battling addiction, as well as for their families. They, along with other centers in Maine and around the country, have seen an increase in need for support services during the pandemic.
During a recent opioid summit hosted by Janet Mills, it was stated that Maine is seeing a roughly 23 percent increase in overdose deaths during the first half of the year, on par with much of the rest of the country. An estimate from the state attorney general’s office projects about 250 people will die from drug overdoses in the first half of 2020, compared to a total of 380 for all of 2019.
“We’ve seen at Acadia Family Center an increase of roughly 25 percent more counseling sessions since March 19 when we moved to a virtual model,” said Executive Director Stephanie Muscat in an interview with the Islander. “We have seen such an increase we’re hiring an additional counselor.”
Donations of any amount help the center achieve its mission, Muscat explained. The money from Last Chance MC is enough to pay for about a dozen counseling sessions.
“We were so excited when Brian reached out to us,” said Muscat. “It was wonderful to get that generous donation.”
The money donated from Last Chance MC will go into the center’s financial assistance fund, which has become more important during the pandemic because a lot of people in the program have lost their jobs, Muscat explained.
“This pandemic is impacting everyone,” she added. “Isolation, and loneliness, is one of the leading causes of addiction. Connection is a treatment for that illness. Centers have had to step up to a new level of care because we’re one of the only connections those people have.”
Tracy understands this all too well. When he started Last Chance MC last October, it was not only to provide support for others looking to get sober, but also to raise awareness around the subject.
“We clearly have a mission, [and] that is to help people,” said Tracy, noting there are six full members of the motorcycle club. “We provide support for anyone trying to stay off something – heroin, alcohol, whatever. We help families that struggle with addiction.
“We do what any motorcycle club does,” he said. “We ride together. We ride as a club. Pretty much every weekend we’re riding.”
Members of the club wear their patches, with “Last Chance, Clean and Sober” and a skeleton riding out of a coffin on a motorcycle, as a symbol of achievement and a beacon for those looking for support.
“Earning a full patch into the club and never wanting to lose that is what keeps me clean and sober,” said Tracy, explaining he also overcame a five-year battle with Vicodin following an injury. “I still struggle with urges for both, but my motorcycle club has given me the motivation to stay positive… They’re all people I’ve met looking for the same thing, the sober lifestyle.
“The pandemic has been challenging because it brought on new types of stress that none of us expected,” he added. “Fortunately, we have all stayed working so we are able to stay focused… Some people are terrified of bikers, but they shouldn’t be, we’re all good.”
Those looking for help with addiction can reach out to Acadia Family Center at acadiafamilycenter.org or call (207) 244-4012.
Anyone wanting to learn more about Last Chance MC can find them on Facebook under LCMCBH.