There’s a crisis in my hometown called heroin addiction and it’s time for a plan

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For the love


This week I am going to do something a little different. I don’t usually write about news or current events, not because I live in some sort of bubble or assume that my readers do, but because there is plenty of that type of writing and my focus is on the good things of Manchester. However, there is a crisis in my hometown that I cannot stay silent about and is something that is killing many people and also has people in a scramble trying to find a solution. This, of course, is the heroin crisis/epidemic that currently plagues the city.

Stop the MadessAs of September 22, 65 people have died due to heroin overdoses in Manchester and there have been 540 overdose calls, 400 of them requiring the administration of Narcan, (since January 1). In addition to the loss of life, the heroin problem has led to more homelessness and increased crime. People are frustrated and want solutions. Of course there have been suggested solutions, mostly on social media. Some of these solutions make sense and some just appear to be said out of anger or frustration. Frustration is understandable, but some of the suggested solutions just cannot be tried.

I am not in law enforcement or an elected official and do not know what non-public plans exist to tackle the heroin crisis in Manchester but believe that Manchester Police Chief Willard is working with his teams on solutions. With this said, I’m presenting my ideas for tackling the heroin problem in Manchester.

Manchester Police S.U.V.Heroin addiction is a disease and therefore those addicted to it need rehab to end the cycle. The repeated denials by the state and county to help Manchester with this crisis shows that not everyone understands the severity of the problem so it is up to the city to solve it themselves.

There is no shortage of opinions and solutions in newspaper article comments and on social media. The comments range from the typical suggestions of prosecution of users and dealers to the legalization of Heroin and other drugs to deter dealers. I have even seen comments offering no sympathy to users and suggestions of their prosecution … no treatment, just jail time. While I believe that people make their own choices and can choose to not shoot up that first time, the fact is that many are past the point of no return or just may not know how to stop. The city needs to take action based on where it is and where it wants to be. Simply blaming the “addict” isn’t a solution.

Prison yardThe first idea is not that uncommon but can be bold — we cut off the head of the snake, so-to-speak. We go after the dealers and charge them while moving up the chain until the supplier is found. Some say that more dealers will just show up and keep the supply going. If this happens then charge them too … keep charging dealers and suppliers until Manchester is no longer a desirable place to do business. I’m talking drug sweeps, stings and dragnets … whatever it takes. Coordinate with the Feds and get their assistance.

I’ve heard that Lawrence, Mass., is the source of many drugs and that there is a network between there and Manchester. If this is true then coordinate with Haverhill PD as well as Massachusetts State Police and the Feds. After all, this would be interstate drug activity. Also speak to the NYC Police Commissioner and city legal teams regarding “stop and frisk,” which is practiced in New York. In addition, go after landlords that knowingly rent to dealers or allow their properties to be used for any part of the drug trade. Go hard and keep on it. It will cost money, (the Feds can help with funding), and it will take leadership — someone with the “intestinal fortitude” to see these things through, but it can be done!

In response to this sort of idea, some say that prisons are too full so this will not help, that it will actually make things worse because we’ll further overcrowd correctional institutions. Prisons are full, which is something that may need to be discussed before this type of enforcement were to take place. How do we alleviate the overcrowding to make room for dealers and the such? Are we sending people to prison that would be better served in another setting? Should certain offenders not be sent to prison? Wouldn’t we rather see high-level drug dealers in prison? These are some of the questions that would need to be answered.

Strong leadership is needed to beat the heroin crisis.
Strong leadership is needed to beat the heroin crisis.

Another idea that I have heard often and recently read an article about is legalization. Although I do not agree with the overall legalization of drugs and don’t see it as a solution to Manchester’s heroin crisis, I do believe that it should be part of the discussion. (I believe that we should listen to all options because it helps bring new ideas to the table and may lead to a solution that has elements of several of them).

A solution to the heroin crisis in Manchester can be found with thoughtful discussion of ideas as well as strict enforcement of laws. (And of course treatment for those who are addicted as well as more effective prevention). I do not have the answers and do not necessarily believe that the traditional way of handling drug problems will work. Therefore we need to discuss solutions.Together Manchester can solve the Heroin puzzle

Mayor Gatsas and Joyce Craig are having a series of town hall debates, one in each ward, leading to the election. This is the perfect time for them to be asked about their ideas for solutions to Manchester’s heroin epidemic. It will take a strong leader — and one who recognizes that they do not have all the answers and that can listen and consider all viewpoints — to help solve Manchester’s Heroin crisis and prevent future epidemics.

As Ken Blanchard says, “None of us is as smart as all of us. Together Manchester can overcome this drug epidemic.


ChicoineAbout the author: Brian Chicoine is a New Hampshire native who moved to Manchester from Raymond in 1980 at the age of 8. He attended Gossler Park Elementary, Parkside and Southside Junior High, and West High, from which he graduated in 1990. After attending Notre Dame College in Manchester, Brian completed his undergraduate degree at Rhode Island College in Providence. Brian and his wife Jackie then came to Manchester in 2004 and were involved in various outreach organizations. Their two boys were born in Manchester during this time. After his position was eliminated in 2009, Brian and his family returned to Rhode Island. They have been living in Providence since 2010. Brian and his family love Manchester and are planning on returning within the next few months. Brian is currently working at helping the city move forward by connecting with other stakeholders and becoming involved with like-minded groups. Brian is also laying the foundation for an organization that will help strengthen the city and help it move forward.

Brian holds a Bachelor’s degree from Rhode Island College and a Master of Public Administration degree from Grand Canyon University. Brian currently works at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is also founder of a Facebook Group, Manchester Forward. You can contact him at brian.chicoine1636@gmail.com.


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About Carol Robidoux 5549 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.