(Editor's note: The following information was submitted by Tewksbury Police Chief Timothy Sheehan.)
As the Town of Tewksbury continues to face and fight the increasing drug epidemic within our Community, the Tewksbury Police Department feels that raising public awareness is a crucial weapon in that battle.
Opioid abuse is viewed as the largest and fastest growing drug problem in Massachusetts and we aim to provide our Community with a level of education that will provide an ounce of prevention and some promise for a better future. The Police Department will be working with various Town Departments and local organizations to provide that education to our resident populations during the week of Oct. 14, 2012.
These departments are working together to create collaborative programs that further increase the education and awareness levels. The Tewksbury Police Department, Tewksbury Board of Health, Tewksbury CARES, Tewksbury School Department, Northeast Behavioral Health, Learn to Cope, and Lowell House, Inc. have committed to taking a stand together against the drug problem in Tewksbury.
At the most recent Board of Selectmen’s meeting, the Board voted unanimously to declare the week of Oct. 14 “Tewksbury’s Drug Awareness Week”. During this week, the Police Department will be working with the Greater Lowell Health Alliance and the Improbable Players to educate grades 5-8 about tobacco, drug, and alcohol abuse.
The Police Department will also be working with Tewksbury’s Art Teachers in grades 1-4 on a “Healthy Living and Healthy Choices” art project. For the Tewksbury Memorial High School students, the SADD program has scheduled former NBA player Chris Herren to speak about the perils of drug abuse on Oct. 15.
The Tewksbury Police Department feels that it is not only important to target the student population during this week but also their parents and all residents of Tewksbury. Therefore, the Police Department will be sponsoring an Opiate Awareness Night at the Tewksbury Memorial High School on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. Here we will discuss the signs and symptoms of drug abuse, how students are obtaining drugs, and how to get help.
Those in attendance will hear from Mellissa Weiksnar, a mother determined to educate as many parents as possible about the dangers of drug addiction. Also this week, the Board of Health will be providing education to the senior population at the Tewksbury Senior Center.
Tewksbury’s Drug Awareness Week will end with an Opiate Overdose Vigil for those that have lost friends or family to this drug epidemic on Friday night, Oct. 19 at 6:30PM. This event will be hosted by the Northeast Behavioral Health Program and will take place on the grounds of the Tewksbury State Hospital.