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At roundtable in Salem with state and local officials, Shaheen urges “aggressive, comprehensive” approach against drug epidemic

(Salem, NH)  – Confronting a rising public health issue in New Hampshire, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) this afternoon met with law enforcement officials and public health professionals at the Salem Police Department to address New Hampshire’s growing heroin and prescription opioid abuse epidemic. Shaheen was joined by New Hampshire Attorney General Joe Foster, Salem Police Chief Paul Donovan, Nashua Police Chief John Seussing and Portsmouth Deputy Police Chief Corey MacDonald along with New Hampshire public health officials and others for a roundtable discussion to identify ways federal, state, and local officials can partner to address the heroin and prescription opioid crisis in New Hampshire.

“While there is no single reason why so many in our communities are turning to drugs, there are many ways we can assist law enforcement and public health officials dealing with the problems that result,” Shaheen said.  “We must act aggressively and comprehensively to take on this challenge and put an end to this epidemic that is hurting so many in our state.”

Shaheen added, “Law enforcement and drug prevention, treatment and recovery, education and outreach all have a role to play as we work together to save lives and fight this fight.”

According to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NHDHHS), the number of people admitted to state treatment programs increased 90 percent for heroin use and 500 percent for prescription drug use over the last 10 years, with the largest increases occurring in just the last two years.  Law enforcement officials have also seen a spike in crimes associated with drug use – like burglaries, assaults and property crimes – and according to NHDHHS, 64 individuals died in heroin-related deaths last year.

The roundtable today follows Shaheen’s recent call for federal investments to assist New Hampshire law enforcement and healthcare providers to fight what has become a top public health concern in the Granite State. Yesterday, at a Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing,  Shaheen urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to partner and collaborate with state and local law enforcement to comprehensively prevent and address heroin and prescription drug addiction within New Hampshire communities.

Participants in this afternoon's roundtable included:

  • Salem Police Department Chief Paul Donovan
  • Salem Police Department Lieutenant Kevin Fitzgerald
  • Nashua Police Department Chief John Seussing
  • Portsmouth Police Department Deputy Police Chief Corey MacDonald                           
  • New Hampshire Attorney General Joe Foster                                          
  • New Hampshire State Police Major David Parenteau
  • Scott Sweet,  NH Drug Task Force
  • Joe Harding, Director of Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
  • Tricia Lucas, Advocacy Director, New Futures
  • Dr. Seddon Savage, Dartmouth Center on Addiction, Recovery & Education
  • Annette Escalante, Keystone Hall
  • Cheryl Wilkie, Vice President, Farnum Center
  • Susan McKeown, Child Health Services