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Published: September 20, 2008 03:55 am ShareThisPrintThis
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Police organize to take on Rx drugs
By Angeljean Chiaramida
Staff Writer

SEABROOK - Police departments from around the seacoast are taking the first steps toward creating a regional substance-abuse task force to tackle the epidemic of underage drinking and prescription drug abuse that's killed a number of young people in the area over recent years.
Seabrook police Lt. Michael Gallagher, who spent years as a chief of Seabrook's investigative unit, said the effort of combining forces to lessen a serious drug problem affecting local communities can only be a good thing.
"I think there's been a serious problem with prescription drug abuse for years," Gallagher said. "This type of task force is right on point, and we're excited to be a part of it."
The new substance abuse task force will work with Allies in Substance Abuse Prevention, a regional coalition that conducted a recent assessment showing prescription drugs are the drugs of choice for both youth and adults in the region.
Seabrook's known of the growing tragedy of prescription drug abuse since 2005, after four young men died in town from overdoses of prescription drugs within 10 months.
As the lieutenant supervising both crime investigation and police patrols, Gallagher said he'll attend an initial meeting in Hampton with that department's detective, whose job is to concentrate on drug crimes.
According to a press release on the topic, the new task force will work closely with other existing regional coalitions - like those in place in Seabrook, Newmarket, Plaistow and Epping - as well as the N.H. Bureau of Liquor Enforcement and the Attorney General's office.
Gallagher said the hope is the task force will combine departmental strategy sharing and a focus on education and prevention methodology. Needed is a way to prevent drug and alcohol problems in youth before they are caught up in the crimes brought on by a life of drug and alcohol addiction.
Underage drinking and drug abuse are the problems of the entire community not just that of law enforcement, Chief Patrick Manthorn has said repeatedly.
An endeavor of the new task force could also be conducting training with retailers in the seacoast area to fine-tune their practices and prevent possible sales of alcohol to underage buyers. Also part of the educational initiatives will be educating parents on the proper disposal of unused prescription drugs.
"I think underage drinking and drug abuse go hand-in-hand," said Gallagher, who believes kids often take their first journey into recreational prescription drug abuse after using drugs they've taken from their own home's medicine chests.
Working in a border community close to the Massachusetts state line, Gallagher is mindful of the unique problems that causes for Seabrook and others like Plaistow or Portsmouth.
"We've worked with (Massachusetts) border towns in the past, and I hope there'll be a way for them to be involved in this," Gallagher said.
 
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