Editor's Note: The following was submitted to Dedham Patch by Assistant Town Administrator Nancy Baker.
The Dedham Coalition for Alcohol and Drug Awareness will hold its first meeting on Tuesday, March 11 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, in the O’Brien Meeting Room.
The Coalition was formed by the Board of Selectmen at its Jan. 16 meeting. Interested residents are encouraged to attend. The agenda includes a review of recent events, ongoing town activities and discussion of priorities.
Across New England and Massachusetts substance abuse has climbed dramatically the past decade. Norfolk County and Dedham are no exception. Norfolk County recorded 60 drug overdose fatalities in 2013, of which three were Dedham residents.
During the past few years Dedham Police have seen an increased number of reported substance overdoses. The overdoses affect people of all ages – from young people to the elderly. They occur in every neighborhood. They affect families of all incomes. Without a doubt this is a major public health problem. In addition the substance users are responsible for a significant portion of break-ins and thefts. It is time to talk about this. It affects many families, and there are many useful programs that can be adopted.
In response to the growing problem many towns have formed coalitions to reduce drug and alcohol abuse through education and assistance programs. They include Braintree, Brookline, Dover, Weymouth, Sharon, Needham, Walpole, Medfield, Foxboro and others.
Much of the work being done elsewhere has been underway in Dedham for quite some time. The Schools’ Health curriculum has addressed the topic for years. The Youth Commission, Parks and Recreation and Police have many organized activities for our youth. The Board of Health and Police collect surplus prescription drugs. The value of the coalition is that it brings stakeholders together regularly to exchange information and ideas that allow continued adjustments to changing circumstances and develop programs that will have the most impact.
For further information please call Selectman Michael Butler at 781-223-2468 or email@example.com or Board of Health Chairman Leanne Jasset at 781-326-0742 or firstname.lastname@example.org.