Cohasset Drug Forum Gets to Root of Drug Addiction

In-between snowstorms Christine Murphy of Cohasset’s Social Service League (SSL) presented a program about killer drugs “from prescription to addiction.”

Murphy should know. Her former husband battled drug addition for most of his life.

Last week’s 2 hour program (check Cohasset 143 for air times) offered a plethora of information about drugs kids and adults are taking in the Hingham, Hull and Cohasset.

Murphy said in Norfolk County one person dies of an overdose every four days. Cohasset’s 2014 stats showed there were 7 overdoses and one fatality. “More than two young people based away outside town,”and were not part of the stats. In Massachusetts there were 1374 drug fatalities in 2014.

For the past year SSL has been looking for ways to educate the community, with meetings being held at various places in Cohasset. The group calls itself the Safe Harbor Cohasset mission, composed of teachers, students, town officials and business people from the area. The group needs volunteers.

To date, the Blue Hills Community Health Alliance, Cohasset Rotary and the Cohasset PSO have given funds for a community secure study of the problem. The towns of Hingham, Hull and Cohasset have joined forces. A Facebook page has been set up and now Safe Harbor needs someone to monitor it:

Jennifer Rowe, ADA Norfolk County Prescription Drug Force told those attending that the Cohasset Police Force was the only police department that found money to equip every cruiser with the life-saving drug Narcan, an inhalant that can counter the effects of a heroin overdose, and which has been successfully used by Cohasset Acting Chief Bill Quigley and his police force.

Rowe said there were two major problems in Norfolk County:
IMPAIRED DRIVING and OPIATE OVERDOSE. Said said nearly forty percent of Cohasset seniors reported binge drinking (five or more drinks) at least three times in the past 30 days. Also, nearly 40 percent of those same seniors reported they had been a passenger in a car with an impaired driver, and many of those impaired drivers were their parents. “Thirty-seven people died last year from impaired drivers. In 2014 63 overdoses deaths came thought he 911 system, that doesn’t include the people who died in emergency rooms.”

She said some of the obvious things which had to be done was safe storage of alcohol, medications, and firearms. Later in the program Dr. John F. Kelly, PhD Harvard Medical School told the assembly that a pharmacy outreach program had been started and that 308 out of 1500 pharmacies were enrolled in the program. As a result of the program, pharmacists were more careful about filling prescriptions for people who were continually wanting early refills. Cohasset Police Officer Patrick Reardon personally visited many of those pharmacies advising them of their responsibility to not fill bogus prescriptions.

“We’re looking at billing records at the Dept. of Public Health and we’re seeing a lot of prescriptions being written without questions being asked. Also, we’re letting prescription writers know when someone has died,” Rowe said. All of this is helping to make the community aware.

A parent who had lost her son to drugs said her son’s grades began slipping in his senior year at BC High. She learned that he had been using OxyContin since his sophomore year.  “OxyContin always leads to heroin addiction,” she said. Also, her son  confessed that he was snorting heroin. “We got him into a detox center but after we got him home we found him on the floor one day, blue and unresponsive after shooting heroin. We called 911 and the EMTs had Narcon. They gave it to him and five minutes later he walked down the stairs.”

Nancy’s son then went to a detox center for 9 month. After he came home he died of an overdose.

Rowe said: “OxyContin, heroin, hydrocodone are all the same as the drug you can buy in the back ally.

“Opiates are sedative narcotics used to relieve pain. They repress the urge to breathe; when someone is having an opiate overdose they stop breathing. The volume of sales of prescription painkillers has gone up and so have overdose deaths .

“People who use drugs not prescribed get them from your medicine cabinet. Gabapentin is drug seekers drug of choice.” Rowe said when a person is released from rehab they have a lower tolerance. Parents and spouses have reported drug users snoring loudly, sleeping soundly. But actually, that person is dying. Citizens don’t know that, first responders recognize it.

“There’s a medicine return box at police station. Clean out your medicine cabinet, take to police station. Get it out of the house,” Rowe advised.

State Rep. Garrett Bradley said government is attempting to deal with the drug issue and it will be one of the main issues discussed by the legislature this year. He said there were not enough beds Bradley’s hoping for a public on-line consumer dashboard where people can locate the nearest treatment center. He is hoping that legislation will facilitate walk-in centers. He noted that heroin is nowavailable for $5.00 a bag on the street.

Dr. Kelly of Mass General Hospital said heroin was the big attention getter, but cannabis and alcohol were equally serious problems.

“Should we legalize cannabis for recreational use?” he asked.

“Alcohol is still the biggest killer. There are 3.3 Million deaths from alcohol every year -more deaths than from anything else -more than from tobacco.

“We’re just starting  study cannabis, but it looks just like alcohol. Early exposure to cannabis results in charges in the brain structure and function. Nine out of 10 adolescents enter treatment because of cannabis. Price, availability are potent precautions of exposure. Add tobacco to that and death rates shoot up. it costs $3-4 trillion a year to treat users. Little is spent on prevention and treatment. But we are screening and intervening earlier, Kelly said.

Alcohol is the most likely cause of premature death in young American males. People can recover, but it takes them a long time to get there. Six out of 10 will recover.

Kelly added that addiction is not only pathway that causes harm. There are three common pathways: you can poison yourself to death, get intoxicated and die and not be addicted, drink over a long period of time and get liver disease, change the brain’s structure and function.

“The brain is not robust during adolescence. The brain grows over 25 years. Starting on drugs in the early teens inhibits impulses and the brains read pathways. After the age 21 people have very little problem with alcohol use exposure. But lifetime rates of alcohol addiction have gone up three times for women born after 1960 and in men addiction has doubled,” Kelly said.

Even smoking low doses of marijuana effects structural changes in the brain producing defects in attention, vision, executive function. according to Kelly, people using cannabis heavily before the age of 18 showed an 8 point decline in IQ (going from the 50th percentile tot the 29th percentile). This decline in the person was noticeable even after a year of abstaining from the drug. Coworkers said they observed a change in the individual(s).
Kelly said there are three ways to go.
Decriminalize marijuana.
Prohibit it.
Legalize it. He said he felt legalization as not the best way to address this disease of he brain. He said taxing cannabis might bring in $15 Billion but other costs, treatment, range in the $250 Billion range.

Jack and Becca Kelly (father and daughter) addressed the group. Jack Kelly is a retired lawyer. Becca works in a bakery.
Jack was raised in Osterville. His mother and father were both alcoholics. His brother died of drug use. When Jack married he moved to the right community it became him mission to “bubbleize my kids” from this addition. but I could not protect my kids from this addiction.

“I had Becca late in my life. Becca was always uncomfortable in her own skin, but she was very good at being able to doctor shop and get drugs. We had no clue; she told us how she did it. We told her that her options were Recover, Jail or Death. I saw my brother die. I was willing to love her enough to risk everything.

“Becca went to detox three times. I thought I was a bad parent, I thought I was alone. Then I attended a parent group and realized my story was no different from anyone else’s story. We were all there because we loved our kids.

“Becca is 2 1/2 years in recovery. There is hope. She has become the person we always wanted her to be.”

Becca announced that she was an alcoholic and a drug addict. “I picked up heroin one day and I didn’t know I was going to become addicted. I started smoking weed in junior high school. All my friends had been smoking before me. Next it was heroin. I was always searching for a way to feel better. There was no progression the first time. Then I started on Percocet. I thought if I could be high on Percocet all the time there would be nothing I couldn’t do. Percocet cost $40 a pill, Heroine was $40 a bag. As addicts we learn to survive and manipulate. Then one day I got to a point in life where I didn’t want to do heroin anymore. I couldn’t imagine keeping up the struggle every day. My parents kicked me out and it was the best thing they could have done.

“The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous saved my life.“

Joanne Peterson, the Founder and Executive Director of Learn to Cope provided the group with explicit signs and symptom of persons involved in drug use. Peterson has a son in long-term recovery.

by Tanna Kasperowicz

© Copyright 2015 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed