As the Town of Tewksbury continues to face and fight the increasing indiscriminate substance abuse epidemic within our community (74 overdoses and 13 related deaths since January 1st, 2016), we feel 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 afford an ounce of prevention and some promise for a better future. The Tewksbury Police Department is working collaboratively with various Town departments and local organizations to develop and arrange for programing that will further increase the education and awareness levels. The Tewksbury Police Department, Tewksbury Board of Health, Tewksbury CARES, Tewksbury School Department, Tewksbury Public Library, Greater Lowell Health Alliance Substance Use & Prevention Task Force, Lahey Behavioral Health Services, and Learn to Cope, have committed to taking a stand together against the substance abuse problem in Tewksbury.
Recently, the Tewksbury Board of Selectmen declared the week of October 16th “Substance Use Prevention and Education Week 2016”. Throughout this week, we will be working with our partners to provide much needed educational programs to our student population as well as our adult and senior populations. 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 and the surrounding communities. Additionally, the Police Department, in cooperation with the Tewksbury Education Foundation, will run contests for all Tewksbury Public School students in grades K-12 to complement the educational programs. The students in grades K-4 will be working on a “Healthy Me” poster contest, grades 5-8 grade students will be asked to do a 60 second public service announcement about healthy coping skills to deal with stress, and the 9-12 students will be asked to do a 90 second public service announcement about teen prescription drug abuse. These contests are part of the Tewksbury Police Departments public awareness initiative in hopes of further educating our students about healthy decisions and to warn teens about the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse.
This is our fifth year undertaking this endeavor and it is our hope that these events and the declaration “Substance Use Prevention and Education Week 2016” will continue annually until we turn the tides on this modern day plague. We realize we will not arrest our way out of this epidemic and that the answer lies within collaboration and education.
Tewksbury’s 2016 Substance Use Prevention and Education Week (programs open to the public)
October 16, 6:30 PM, Candle Light Vigil: Lahey Behavioral Health Services and Tewksbury Police Department will host a vigil in remembrance of those who’ve died as a result of the disease of addiction, as well as for those loved ones who are in recovery and mourning. Tewksbury State Hospital, 365 East Street, Tewksbury. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to all.
October 17, 12:30-2PM, Opioid Education for Seniors: Join District Attorney Marian Ryan in a conversation about how the opiate epidemic is effecting the senior citizen population. Tewksbury Senior Center, 175 Chandler Street, Tewksbury. Light refreshments to be served. This event is free and open to all.
October 22, 10AM-2PM, Prescription Drug Takeback: Please bring your unwanted and unused medication to the Tewksbury Police Department for proper medication disposal. Tewksbury Police Department, 918 Main Street, Tewksbury. This event is free and open to all.
To learn more about the programs schedule for this week or to get involved, please contact Officer Jennie Welch at (978)851-7373, ext. 230 or Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative Program Director Maria Ruggiero at (978)851-7373, ext. 352.