Drug Program Focuses on Awareness, Prevention
"A Toxic Mixture: Drug Addiction and the Developing Brain" will be presented May 9.
Sue Rosa, town health services manager, knows Chelmsford is not unlike any other town in the area: it has a problem with drug addiction.
"Rather than ignoring the problem, we want to be proactive and educate our children, as well as our parents, on the fact that this issue exists," said Rosa.
Financially sponsored by Live Smart, "A Toxic Mixture: Drug Addiction and the Developing Brain" will be presented by Jeff Stewart of Trinity EMS. He will "empower kids with information" and inform adults, Rosa said. Rosa said the program is appropriate for students in grade 5 and older.
Rosa said that while Chelmsford High School is making an effort to present drug awareness programs monthly, this program is town-wide and hopes to include community members and those students not in the public schools as well.
"Opiates unfortunately are the leading cause of death for young adults in this area, and the number of kids addicted has been skyrocketing," said Rosa. "So it's two fold, it's about educating the children on what drugs do what, and how you can go from dabbling to abusing to then addiction. This program will talk about how addiction physically affects your brain and what changes it causes."
The National Institute of Drug Abuse has donated 1,000 copies of a resource book called the Science of Addiction. All who attend the program will receive one, Rosa said.
"It shows pictures of what (drugs) do to the brain, what happens at different ages," she said. "In addition to Jeff, we also have a guest speaker who is a 27-year-old resident and Chelmsford High alum, and he is going to tell his personal story of addiction and path he’s traveled since he started (drug use) in sixth grade."
Rosa said the purpose of the program isn't to scare the students - but to inform about how fast one can become addicted.
"We need to get information out there to kids as well as parents that this is what can happen, you don’t want to fool around with it," she said. "And we'll also have a posted outside for parents that explains, there are things young adults use (as drug paraphenalia) ... if you see these laying around your house, lets make sure the radar goes up. You can buy a drug test over the counter and say, I'm concerned, and drug test your kids."
The town also now has a prescription medication drop-off box at Chelmsford Police Station. Medications should be in a ziplock sandwich bag and will be taken, no questions asked. No sharps or illegal drugs, please.