This year, two young people in town have died from drug overdoses, police have said.
In May, a 25-year-old Andover resident died of an overdose, according to Commander Charles Heseltine, who formerly worked on the drug unit in the detectives division and is now second-in-command under the new police chief, Pat Keefe.
In early July, an 18-year-old resident also died of an overdose.
Former Police Chief Brian Pattullo told the Andover Townsman in an interview on his last day in office that heroin use is a big issue in Andover.
“If you’re looking the other way because of heroin, it’s too late,” he said, adding that heroin and prescription drug use in Andover has become a “huge, huge problem.
“Heroin is used by a wide spectrum of people. We have had people die of heroin overdoses who live in million-dollar mansions,” Pattullo said.
The problem of drug abuse is nothing new, say police and other experts. But recently, it has grown more acute, particularly in affluent suburbs, where young people have access to drugs like Percocet, Vicodin and Oxycontin.
Issues arise when people stop taking the drugs for fun and take them because they have to, police and others say.
“It starts with prescription drugs,” Pattullo said. “You find some Oxycontin in the medicine cabinet used for back pain for mom, but you can’t get it in the street, so you turn to heroin, which is cheaper.”
Cheaper, and much more addictive. “Once they start on heroin, there’s no getting off,” Pattullo said.
The addicts steal from family members and friends to pay for their habit, and may eventually get kicked out of the house.
“Entire families deal with the problem,” he said. “A lot of people just force their kids out and let them fend for themselves. They live on the streets. It’s not a good situation.”