Wilmington Eyes Coalition to Combat Increased Drug Concerns

Health Director Shelly Newhouse is in the initial stages of forming the drug coalition.

Editor’s Note: The following is Part Two in Wilmington Patch’s five part series on drug use in Wilmington. In Part One on Monday we provided a look at how much of an issue town officials and police believe drugs are in town. Check back throughout the week for more stories, and to find all five stories in one place, you can visit the topic page for our drug series.

Town officials and police have identified drug use as one of the problems facing Wilmington residents. Now they’ve found what they hope to be a solution to that problem.

Director of Public Health Shelly Newhouse is leading the charge in forming a local drug coalition that would bring together representatives from the school system, Wilmington Police Department, local government and community at large in an effort to fight what has become a growing concerning in town.

“I hope that with the coalition, we can give parents a good resource,” said Newhouse. “You can have an organization with hundreds of people involved that can go nowhere. What I want to do is get the right people involved to see if we can make a difference.”

Newhouse is still in the early stages of planning, but she hopes to apply for a grant in January that would allow her to use federal funds that are allocated for communities to change strategies in an effort to reduce substance abuse. 

Superintendent of Schools Joanne Benton said she is meeting with Newhouse, Wilmington High School, route: {:controller=>"listings", :action=>"show", :id=>"wilmington-high-school"} --> principal Eric Tracy and

Mary Giroux September 18, 2012 at 01:43 PM
While I applaud Wilmington making the effort to combat this and come up with a program. I think you are being naive that cigarettes and alcohol are what you should focus on. These drugs are easier to get than cigarettes and beer. They are cheaper too. They are very cleverly introduced by the people who deal them. They know exactly how to get someone hooked and then it is game over. They are everywhere. This is WAY bigger than cigarettes and alcohol. Wake up.
Stacie September 18, 2012 at 02:15 PM
I agree with Mary. I also think the DARE Program should be in the face of every student at the Middle School. What happened to all the commercials we used to see about the EGG and this is your Brain on Drugs??
Valerie September 18, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Mary has it 100% correct! Why don't you clear the drug dealers from the Shawsheen Elementary School field and the kids who party there at night in the parking lot and woods.....then head down to the Lake and see what goes on there at night.....and hang out at the shell station on Lowell St and 38.....see how many drug deals to kids go on there..... I see it alot and never see police there when they should be. Also you know who the dealers are......arrest them....raid their house.... something needs to be done.
webmom September 18, 2012 at 03:23 PM
There is a very fine line between teaching kids awareness...and creating a spark of curiosity. My daughters graduated DARE years ago and tell me now that they learned about a lot of new and exciting new drugs in those classes, drugs they never heard of (and the wine coolers sounded so delicious, sweet). After those classes, a lot of kids said 'oooo that sounds like fun, we should try that'. Some kids sounded excited to try something that would make them seem older and cool. So, absolutely, we need to teach kids the dangers of drug use, but we really need to identify when we cross the line into making it seem like something grown up and cool that they want to try. Right after DARE graduation, it's in the middle school years that kids start trying these things. And I'm not sure, but it seems right after middle school, many kids can walk over to the plaza and buy what they want. By the time high school rolls around, there's already a problem.
Wayne Sullivan September 18, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Great points...maybe some of you can offer to volunteer to be part of the coalition and bring all your passionate ideas to the table. So many are good at identifying problems, but what are you willing to do to be part of the greater cause and not just your personal situation? This problem is bigger than all of us. Time is always an issue and we all know someone who has dealt with this issue as a parent, a sibling or whatever. The question is how do you get beyond each individual experience and influence change? Not so easy and doing something is better than nothing. If you have ideas, please get further involved.
Townie September 18, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Wow..... Comment 4 makes me wish you needed a license to be a parent. Stop the world I want to get off.
Liane September 18, 2012 at 07:54 PM
I agree with Mary way bigger than alcohol and cigarettes. Sounds like a good program, how about starting it with a recovering addict or a parent of one.
Townie September 18, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Actually 4 and 5. That is all
Kevin N September 18, 2012 at 08:20 PM
You will be missed.
JoeC September 18, 2012 at 09:38 PM
They too busy harassing other residence over petty things like minor warrants and 5 miles over the speed limit etc.
Christine September 18, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Does the WPS do an anonymous survey about high risk behavior? It would be helpful to know when(time of day) and how kids gain access to drugs/alcohol. Also, if we tracked the activities kids are involved in, I'd bet it's the same 20-30% doing afterschool ,clubs, and town activities-- targeted outreach is critical intervention.
ECJ September 19, 2012 at 10:48 AM
I think it is a great Idea to form a coalition, We should also form a neiborhood watch group as well. Together I think we could make a differance. Thumbs up for this one.
Natalie D September 19, 2012 at 11:58 AM
I agree, Mary. The sale of alcohol and tobacco to minors may be easier to enforce & more profitable for the community (in the form of fines) but it is hardly the issue that strikes fear in my heart. Illicit drugs are a much larger concern to me as a parent... illicit drugs and abused prescription medication. The town is probably looking for a result based approach & cracking down on what is easily enforced will produce results faster but will barely graze the surface of the real issue. Maybe we could all brainstorm ideas for solutions to the real problem instead of being critical of the solutions on the table? What are some ideas for combating the real issue? Someone mentioned a neighborhood watch program a few weeks ago. Perhaps we could bring 21 Jump Street to modern day Wilmington? I don't know... but addressing that we have a problem is the right first step & I commend the town officials for making the issue a priority.
Tom September 19, 2012 at 03:04 PM
I think that a Boys & Girls club would be an asset to the middle school & above aged kids in town. Once they hit sixth grade, it is like they are on their own. Most parents work and there are very few after school activites for middle school and above, so the kids are left to fend for themselves. No where to go and nothing to do is a recipe for disaster. If they had a club that they could hang out at until their parents get out of work, then at least it would take some of them off of the streets. Problem is that it will take time, effort and fund raising to open a Boys & Girls club. Also, a scared straight program wouldn't hurt.
Christine September 20, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Great idea Tom.. You in for the fundraising :) And you're absolutely correct about the middle school--there are several issues there in terms of it being developmentally appropriate-the after school programs are already moot for those of us who work and cant drive to pick them up at 2:30. Doing away with the late bus was a mistake IMHO-- the kids can't stay after for academic help either-- we are missing great opportunities by dismissing middle schoolers at 1:30 in the afternoon--and I can prove their idle time is bad for kids with the comments and pics I see on Facebook ....unsupervised teens= access+opportunity=trouble
G. Bradford October 10, 2012 at 05:02 PM
What do you suggest is a better solution?


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