Portsmouth, through its police department, is approaching the opiate addiction problem from a totally new angle. The police department has distinguished opiate addiction from other crimes and declared it a community health problem. Unlike many jurisdictions where opiate addiction is classified under criminal justice problems, Portsmouth has opted to collaborate with the regional hospital to find a solution for to this problem.
The collaboration between the Police Department and the Regional hospital has seen the State host successful Community Access to Recovery Days. This year, a number of community based organizations will be furnishing information on particular topics that touch on the use of narcotics and the dangers associated with the abuse of the same.
Sgt. David Keaveny of Portsmouth Police Department praised the Community Access to Recovery Day as an event that has helped in reducing drug use and abuse by furnishing the affected persons and communities with resources that are necessary to free themselves from the addiction of drug abuse.
The Sergeant observed that Seacoast community and other communities residing in the state are facing challenges in narcotic-related incidents that include deaths, overdoses and crime. The state has so far recorded six narcotic overdose-related deaths since January.
Keaveny pointed out that it takes a lot of courage for someone to ask for help. The Access to Recovery event saw some addicts and family members seeking help on how they or their loved ones could break free of addiction.
In this year’s event, the organizers have invited a guest speaker, Dr. Nowak, who is expected to deliver a key note address on a subject entitled “Progression of the Epidemic on the Individual and Community”. This talk is open to the public and attendees will get to learn about the medical repercussions of addiction and the effects that substance abuse has on the brain and body.
Aside from the large plenary hall for the session, the organizers have also promised to open up a total of two private rooms for families or individuals who would like to have private consultations with behavioral health clinicians. The open sessions will be facilitated by representatives from multiple agencies who have been invited for the event.
The panelists and the clinicians will also tackle issues surrounding resource mobilization that will help individuals and families to handle heroin and opiate addiction. The hospital will ensure that the experience given to the attendees to the event is both accessible and comfortable.
Since the 1990's to date, there has been a whopping 500 percent increase in the number of overdose deaths. A third of these deaths are attributed to opioid abuse. Portsmouth has been on the forefront in the efforts to reduce or prevent deaths from such overdoses. In 2014, Narcan, an emergency drug administered to persons that overdose on heroin or opiates, was administered for a little over 1920 times. Portsmouth’s Fire Chief reported that his department has responded to about 30 drug overdoses since January. He expressed fears that by the end of the year, the numbers might have surpassed the yearly total of 50 cases that were reported in 2014.