Combating Heroin and Other Drugs in Pelham

August 7, 2015


by Len Lathrop

While the Pelham drug usage problem may be compounded by its location on the New Hampshire border with easy access to Lowell and Lawrence, two large cities in Massachusetts, it is unique in a much better way as well.  Citizens of Pelham have formed a committee to be an information clearinghouse for both treatment options and support of abusers and their families.

Before you even learn about this group of people, stop and mark your calendars and older (high school age) children’s calendars and begin telling your friends.  Please remember drugs are affecting your town and that on Thursday Aug. 20, less than two weeks away, at Sherburne Hall from 6 to 8 p.m. there will be a community discussion about “Heroin in Pelham.”  The keynote speaker is Sandi Coyle of New Futures – Director of Recovery Community Engagement.  Following her remarks will be a panel of town and regional organizations.

Meeting with members of the Pelham Community Coalition in the police station last Thursday, it can be stated that drugs are a problem in Pelham.  In 2014 the Pelham Fire Department used Narcan 10 times; as of the middle of June this year, it has had to use it eight times.  Narcan (Naloxone) is indicated for the complete or partial reversal of opioid overdoses, including respiratory depression (the professional terminology for overdose) induced by natural and synthetic opioids.  Just something to think about.

Making up this coalition to help abusers and their families are Hal Lynde, selectman and initiator of PCC; Deb Ryan, parent and school board member; Amanda Lecaroz, superintendent of Pelham schools; Brian Kelly, Pelham Police’s school resource officer; and Heather Lagasse, Pelham School District at risk counselor.  Consulting with the group is Lisa Vasquez, substance misuse prevention coordinator, Greater Nashua Public Health Network, who has been an instrumental resource for advice, resources, and support.  Joining the cause are Cathy Pinette, who will be the communications liaison, and Bill Creeley.

Two years ago a survey was completed by 540 Pelham students, which Lynde reported that 10 percent of freshmen and 60 percent of the then senior class students had used marijuana.  These answers and others to the survey questions and the substance abuse that is currently being seen led to the formation of the PCC.  Both Officer Kelly and school board member Ryan explained the Pelham school system has directive with drug issues that is based on treatment and rehabilitation and not punishment.  With roughly 200 students in the Pelham school system, the At Risk Counselor, Heather Lagasse, whose office is at the high school, works with schools throughout all the grades.

Did you know that Pelham has a Safe House Program where parents pledge to provide an alcohol- and drug-free house where students can gather?

Mark your calendar on the 20th to attend and learn more how Pelham is addressing the problem, what resources there are and how you can be part of the effort.  For more information contact Deb Ryan or SRO Brain Kelly at the Pelham Police Department, 508-9925.