Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

May 22, 2014

More help needed to fight drug addiction

The Andover Police Department last week unveiled its latest tool in fighting the drug epidemic sweeping the state: a drop box for prescription pills.

The presence of the green, steel box, which is bolted to the floor of the lobby in the Public Safety Center at 30 North Main St. is an acknowledgement that a drug problem exists here. But more important, it is a proactive effort to encourage residents to remove opiate drugs like Oxycontin from their medicine cabinets so they don’t become a gateway to heroin and a life of drug addiction.

Heroin addicts have told police that they got addicted after starting first with marijuana and alcohol, but then moving onto prescription drugs like Oxycontin. But the prescription drugs are expensive and harder to get than heroin, which is less than $10 a bag and can be easily purchased.

Unfortunately, heroin is acutely addictive and because it is unregulated, it can lead to sometimes deadly overdoses when laced with other drugs like fentanyl.

But the drop box is just one prong among several being deployed in town to tackle the problem. After a drug forum last fall on the top floor of Old Town Hall, it was clear that something needed to be done right here in Andover. Young men and women stood up in front of more than 200 people and bravely recounted how they or their friends had grappled with drug abuse, forcing them in and out of rehab, and all but destroying their lives. The mother of a Tyngsboro woman told the heartbreaking tale of how her daughter succumbed to heroin, dying of an overdose at the age of 20.

Police Chief Pat Keefe was put on the spot at the November forum, when several parents asked why Andover didn’t have a drop box for prescription drugs. He vowed to look into it. Last week, he made good on his promise and the drop box was installed, thanks to legwork by police Lt. Edward Guy.

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