Teen Drug and Alcohol Abuse Facts
Police officials to discuss prescription drug abuse
Published: February 24, 2010
By Angeljean Chiaramida
Regional law enforcement officials have two opportunities
to explore the epidemic of prescription drug abuse during
the coming month, with officials from both Seabrook
and Salisbury taking leading roles in both
On Friday, Seabrook, CT Lt. Michael Gallagher
will appear in Rochester, N.H., at a regional
meeting involving the police departments from 20 southeastern
New Hampshire communities. Gallagher will discuss Seabrook's
"drug take-back program" that allows residents to get rid
of unwanted and potentially hazardous prescription drugs in
a secure drop box in the lobby of the police station.
Begun in the fall, Seabrook was the first department in the
state to begin the take-back program, which within its first
month collected nearly 500 controlled/narcotic drugs, including
the most abused drugs: Percocet, Percodan, OxyContin,
Lorazepam and methadone.
Seabrook police believe 90 percent of drug abuse in town is
not from illegal drugs like heroin
but from prescription
drugs. Nationally, more teens abuse prescription drugs
than any other illicit drug, except marijuana.
Most first-time prescription drug abusers don't buy from dealers
but take from medicine chests at homes of relatives and friends,
Hearing of the effectiveness of Seabrook's
drug take-back program, other police departments, such as
Newburyport's, have instituted it.
Gallagher said he will be on hand Friday to answer any questions
law enforcement officials have about the program.
Seabrook resident and Wal-Mart pharmacist David Kelly volunteered
to help with the program as soon as he heard about it. Kelly
said as a pharmacist he considers Seabrook's program an important
step in the struggle against drug abuse and accidental poisoning.
"I absolutely think this is a terrific program," Kelly said.
"It gets these drugs away from children and teenagers who
can use them incorrectly. It can save lives. Anything that
can get these drugs out of the house is a plus. Even Tylenol
can be toxic to a toddler who gets into it by accident."
On March 30, New Hampshire will host a Prescription
Drug Summit, hosted by the state's Department of Safety, attorney
general and Chiefs of Police Association. Opening the daylong
program of workshops will be Seabrook resident and Salisbury
police Chief David L'Esperance. A former Essex County
Drug Task Force member, L'Esperance lost his son, Christopher,
to a prescription drug overdose.
"Chief L'Esperance has a unique perspective on this problem,"
N.H. Assistant Attorney General Philip Bradley said yesterday.
"His combined experience makes a compelling story."
L'Esperance will be one of a dozen presenters at the Concord,
N.H., summit, which is meant to inform the law enforcement
community, Bradley said.
"Unfortunately, I've been on both sides of this issue,"
L'Esperance said. "I hope I can offer some perspective
on how bad the problem is and help people at the summit realize
the significance of this issue."
Other presenters include members of the New Hampshire State
Police Forensic Laboratory, Connecticut's prescription drug
monitoring program, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and
two members of the medical profession, including N.H.'s chief
medical examiner, Dr. Thomas Andrew.
Andrew has been a constant warrior against drug abuse, releasing
a study in 2008 that indicated that drug deaths had surpassed
lives lost to traffic accidents in New Hampshire, calling
it not a fluke but a sad trend.
Law enforcement, Andrew and the drug abuse prevention communities
have fought for a drug monitoring law for years, but it has
repeatedly failed to gain approval of the Legislature because
of opposition mounted by the New Hampshire's Board of Pharmacy
and other privacy advocates.