159 Woodburn Dr.
Methuen, MA 01844
For Immediate Release
Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Merrimack Valley Prevention & Substance Abuse Project Hosts Successful Community Forum
METHUEN – The Merrimack Valley Prevention and Substance Abuse Project had an excellent turnout for its second annual community forum which was held at the Methuen Senior Center on Saturday.
“We were hoping for a good turnout this year, and the number of people who came out today was outstanding,” said Brian LaGrasse, Director of Public Health in Methuen. “The amount of support we have received from our sponsors, our vendors, and our community is overwhelming and I thank everyone who came together today from the bottom of my heart.”
This year’s theme is “A Reason for Hope”. With at least 150 people in attendance, the event consisted of a meet and greet where guests could network and visit vendor tables, a panel discussion about the latest progress in substance abuse prevention, and a question and answer session.
Panelists representing law enforcement, education and the court included:
- Dean Brodeur, Drug & Alcohol Resource Coordinator for Methuen Public Schools
- Jim Kane, CEO of Serenity at Summit New England in Haverhill
- Jennifer Burns, Director of Peer Recovery Center
- Diana DiZoglio, Methuen State Representative
- Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon
- Danielle Murray, Representative from the Lawrence Drug Court
- Tracey Rauh, Managing Editor at the Eagle Tribune
- Cole Welch, Haven of Hope
Each panelist discussed their personal connection to substance abuse, how their organizations have contributed to recent progress in preventing substance abuse and the resources they provide to addicts and their loved ones. A main point of discussion was the changes over the past few years in relation to how organizations, especially law enforcement, are preventing substance abuse.
“We listen to the public and hear their message. They are saying that this is an epidemic, it’s a problem, and they want us to think differently as police officers so we have done just that,” Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said. “Our goal now is to get help to those who need it and make ourselves an available resource in the battle against addiction. If we work together, we can fight this horrible disease and save lives.”
The event attracted recovering addicts, families who have been touched by the struggles of addiction, and even treatment centers looking to get on board with Merrimack Valley’s cause. Dr. Evan Miller, CEO of Akua Mind & Body, and Lindsey Stewart, Director of Admissions, were in attendance and eager to learn more about how they can get involved. Akua, a California-based treatment center, is looking to open up to two treatment centers in the Merrimack Valley area to help support this cause on the East Coast.
Several vendors also attended the forum, each with a booth at the edge of the room. They all provided information about their services, promotional products, demonstrations, and examples of harmful substances and how to dispose of them. Vendors included the Methuen Police Department, Lawrence Habitat Comprehensive Treatment Center, Live Free Recovery, ARMOR Program, Alternative Home Healthcare, Mikey Shorts Recovery Supplies, Haven of Hope, Spectrum, Pathway House, Lahey Behavioral Services, Number 16, Serenity at Summit New England, NFI Ambulatory Services, Sally’s Place, and LMCC Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force.
In July, Methuen Mayor Stephen N. Zanni and Chief Solomon announced that the Methuen Police Department would hire a pair of Outreach Coordinators to work with police officers to go door-to-door to known drug addicts and their families, offering aid and resources to help them fight the disease of drug addiction.
The Methuen Outreach Initiative is inspired by the Gloucester ANGEL Initiative and is similar to a program implemented in Arlington earlier this month. The Methuen Police Department is also partnering with The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, or P.A.A.R.I., as one of its law enforcement partners.
For more information about Substance Abuse Prevention, contact the MVPASAP at [email protected].