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Thursday, June 12, 2014

New Telegraph series will look at preventing youth addiction

When The Telegraph ran a six-day series about the epidemic level of prescription drug abuse two years ago called “Addiction Epidemic,” we knew it unfortunately wouldn’t be the end. As treatment experts, policymakers and law enforcement officials had said, the problem wasn’t going away anytime soon.

This spring – at an event in Concord hosted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Hampshire to unveil a trio of PSAs, highlighting New Hampshire’s woeful statistics around substance abuse by our youngest residents – another light bulb turned on. ...

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When The Telegraph ran a six-day series about the epidemic level of prescription drug abuse two years ago called “Addiction Epidemic,” we knew it unfortunately wouldn’t be the end. As treatment experts, policymakers and law enforcement officials had said, the problem wasn’t going away anytime soon.

This spring – at an event in Concord hosted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Hampshire to unveil a trio of PSAs, highlighting New Hampshire’s woeful statistics around substance abuse by our youngest residents – another light bulb turned on.

The PSAs serve as advertisements for a long-term campaign, called the 2014 Youth Prevention Campaign, by the partnership, that aims to put in parents’ faces just how many kids are abusing addictive or illegal substances – be it marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs, heroin or host of other things. As New Hampshire Charitable Foundation President and CEO Richard Ober said, Step 1 toward prevention is getting over “this hump of public attention.”

Addressing youth prevention is important, because kids who abuse substances at a young age can be twice as likely to struggle with addiction as adults. This campaign won’t be a quick fix, but it could mean fewer addicts years from now.

A key to the Youth Prevention Campaign is a stable of “champions,” who have committed to supporting the campaign, sharing the partnership’s message. Champions so far include U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen and Gov. Maggie Hassan.

Now, it also includes The Telegraph. The monthly series “Addiction Epidemic: Prevention” will launch later this month and offer articles, statistics and resources for parents and community members trying to keep kids drug-free.

It’s also part of our belief that a newspaper’s responsibility goes beyond reporting about a drug dealer’s arrest or the latest and scariest statistics about overdoses in Nashua. It also means taking a longer view and supporting the people, like the PDFNH and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, who are trying to attack one of the primary social ills that affects everyone’s lives in the Granite State.

“Addiction Epidemic: Prevention” will begin Sunday, June 29. You will find a section of the paper – where you would usually find our Sunday Magazine – dedicated to an issue surrounding youth substance abuse and prevention.

This month, the focus will be underage drinking. The numbers there don’t inspire confidence. New Hampshire, according to statistics culled from the National Survey on Drug Use and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, ranks second in the country for highest alcohol use among 12- to 20-year-olds.

It’s somewhere to start.