News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective
7th December 2009

Drug abuse continues to plague communities

posted in Healthy Living, In the News, Local Groups, State Concerns |

At the monthly meeting of the City Manager’s Anti-Gang Task Force this morning, we discussed the problem of rampant abuse of prescription drugs, not only in Lowell but throughout the state, and its impact on crime and overdoses. Lowell Police Chief Ken Lavallee noted that many of the city’s recent increases in car break-ins, in particular, are due to drug abuse. (Readers may recall a community event on opiates abuse in October.) An op-ed in today’s MetroWest Daily News argues that one way to reduce opiate abuse is to support recommendations from an opiates report recently released to the legislature. The OxyContin and Heroin Commission report notes: “Between 2002 and 2007 the Commonwealth lost 78 soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the same time period, 3,265 Massachusetts residents died of opiate-related overdoses. The Commonwealth is losing men and women on its streets at a rate of 42 to 1 compared to what the state is losing in two wars overseas. Addiction is a medical disorder, and we have a public health epidemic on our hands that is larger than the flu pandemic.”

Among other things, the commission’s report calls for taking away the threat of prosecution for individuals who seek help for an overdose victim or who assist police in identifying drug sources. Likening it to the Safe Haven Law that allows parents to abandon infants without fear of prosecution and the lives saved from that initiative, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said he could support similar legislation for drug users as long as it came “with limitations that didn’t allow drug pushers a free pass.” Leone went on to explain that lives are lost when drug-users are afraid to get help for themselves or friends because they fear prosecution. Another problem is the availability of prescription drugs on the streets and the lack of awareness: from doctors who may over prescribe these medications, and from people who don’t realize the risks of addiction and easy access due to storing these drugs without safeguards. For more information, watch replays of the Lowell community program on cable channel 22, at these times:

Forum on Prescription Drug Abuse: Playback Schedule

  • 12/9/09 Wednesday 2:00 PM
  • 12/9/09 Wednesday 8:30 PM
  • 12/10/09 Thursday 11:00 AM
  • 12/11/09 Friday 2:00 AM
  • 12/12/09 Saturday 1:30 PM
  • 12/13/09 Sunday 1:30 PM
  • 12/14/09 Monday 1:00 AM
  • 12/16/09 Wednesday 2:00 PM
  • 12/16/09 Wednesday 8:30 PM
  • 12/17/09 Thursday 11:00 AM
  • 12/18/09 Friday 2:00 AM
  • 12/19/09 Saturday 1:30 PM
  • 12/20/09 Sunday 1:30 PM
  • 12/21/09 Monday 1:00 AM

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