nike dri fit polo Hudson looks for ways to fight opioid crisis in NH
HUDSON When asked how many know someone who has been touched by heroin, more than half of the roughly 150 hands in the room immediately raised in the air.
The sheer number of those touched that awful touch was unfortunately not surprising.
Months of high school gymnasium forums, lawmaker led hearings and small town conversations have yielded few results in New Hampshire struggle against heroin and other opiates. On Thursday evening in Hudson, legislators, emergency responders and parents gathered to find solutions to the crisis, especially among teenagers.
The goal is to learn together, said Doug Robinson, one of the lead organizers of “Heroin in Hudson A Community Discussion” at the town community center.
Above all else, every parent should have been equipped before they left with the ability to speak with their children about drug use, he added.
Area News Group, which hosted the event, passed out pamphlets with a series of contacts for local health care agencies and recovery centers across the region, as well as a brief list of what to look for, such as syringes, excessive amounts of cotton balls or plastic baggies, dirty or burned spoons, multiple heat sources like candles and lighters, aluminum foil, and small glass or metal pipes.
Hudson school officials said to look for behavioral changes such as in friendships, differences in physical appearance, declining grades, loss of motivation or interest in activities they once enjoyed, increased conflict and a lack of concern about personal appearance or hygiene.
“We have come a long way in getting our heads out of the sand, that we really do have a problem. And it all of our problems,” said Dan Wells, a counselor at Alvirne High School. “It not a school problem, it not a family problem, it not a child problem, it not a law enforcement problem, a medical problem it a community problem. And I so pleased to see the community this community stepping up to the plate to do something about it.”
In an effort to further help parents identify possible early warning signs or indicators of drug use, participants toured a model bedroom of an average teenager. The interactive presentation called “High and Seek: Defend Our Youth, Empower Our Parents, and Educate Our Educators” includeded risky behavior hints from shoes without laces to hidden drug paraphernalia behind posters.
Melissa Fernald, of the Wolfeboro based Safe Surroundings, provided a list of ways to detect teenage drug use, including occasionally doing their laundry to unobtrusively check for clues of substance abuse or something as simple as giving them a hug to evaluate the sights, smells and mannerisms of the adolescent.
Hudson police detective Sgt. Jason Lucontoni, a member of the New Hampshire Drug Task Force, said there are many common signs for parents.
Some of the most noticeable are drowsiness and nodding off or unclear thinking and memory loss.
“This isn someone who taking a nap; this is someone who sleeps primarily throughout the day and having odd sleeping patterns,” he said.
Another sign is missing money, valuables or prescription drugs. Lucontoni said in his house, prescription drugs are treated like “a loaded gun” and are always in a lockbox.
In different regions of the country, there are different names for heroin. He identified a number of its street names: Smack, brown, dope, H or Big H, black tar, horse and hell dust.
“Whatever the name, this is the cause of thousands and thousands of overdoses and deaths throughout this country, This is what affecting our loved ones,” Lucontoni said.
He offered a few recommendations for parents: Be open and talk to teenagers about the dangers of drug use and remain involved in their lives. He said it is OK to search t h r o u g h r o o m s , phones or p e r s o n a l belongings d e s p i t e some pushback.
And if someone admits to a problem or addiction, do not be angry, but understanding and empathetic. Lucontoni said to assist them in getting the help they need and how to get them on the road to recovery.
Addiction personally reached out and touched Lucontoni, who showed photos of his godson, an athletic, straight A student from an upper middle class family. What started as a sports injury led to an addiction to prescription painkillers and an overdose on heroin in a mall bathroom.
“Heroin does not discriminate; it has no boundaries,” he said.
For the past five years, the number of heroin related overdoses and criminal activity connected to the drug use has skyrocketed across the Northeast, with small, rural states like New Hampshire and Vermont experiencing an unprecedented number of cases. Neighborhoods have established prevention coalitions, and public officials from Capitol Hill to Concord have l o o k e d for ans w e r s f r o m t r e a t ment and recovery agencies.
A n d yet the numbers r e m a i n alarmingly high in cities like Nashua and Manchester.
First responders in Hudson were dispatched to 73 overdoses in 2014. They are on pace for 69 this year.
Greg Rich, a Hudson firefighter and paramedic, said the heroin now is much more powerful than he has seen in his eight years on the job.
“There are some people out there who are doing the same amount of heroin that they usually do, and they putting themselves in respiratory arrest, putting themselves in cardiac arrest instantly because it just that nasty right now,” he said. “Some of the heroin we coming across right now, it cut with fentanyl and that the people who are having fatal overdoses.”
Earlier this year, she was part of a bipartisan group of senators calling for the reinstatement of national drug take back days, which allows for an easy way to dispose of unused or expired medications. She also is backing legislation to focus on a series of prevention resources and support for recovering individuals, which has the support of leading law enforcement agents in 38 states.
“Another immediate priority is to continue raising awareness and educating the public about the dangers of heroin and prescription drug addiction,” Ayotte said.