Join us Thursday for Rx chat, forum

There are times when telling a story isn’t enough. The power of being able to see someone, hear their story first-hand, and ask questions can bring a deeper meaning to a complex subject.

Addiction is one of those issues.

If there’s any question whether prescription drug abuse is real or imagined, consider this: New Hampshire’s rate of young adults aged 18- to 25 using pain relievers without a prescription is the second highest among all U.S. states and territories, according to a 2008 national survey.

If there’s any doubt about the consequences of this type of drug abuse, heed the stories of the parents whose children have died of overdoses, from the young people trying to put their lives back together after a bout with these powerful painkillers, and from the cops trying to keep the drugs from going from the medicine cabinet to the street.

In addition to examining the issue of prescription drug abuse in a six-day multimedia series, The Telegraph has scheduled two live events where any of our readers can interact with the people we interviewed.

As a member of this community, we believe it is our responsibility to offer a dialogue that can lead to solutions.

The first is an online forum with some of the state’s drug abuse specialists, which will be held Thursday at 1 p.m. at www.nashuatelegraph.com.

The second is a live discussion Thursday at 7 p.m. at Nashua High School South. There, a panel of experts, as well as those affected by addiction to prescription drugs, will share their insights and answer questions from the community.

The panelists at the 7 p.m. live discussion will include:

Scott O’Neil, a former Nashua High School athlete who dropped out of college and was caught breaking into cars to feed his addiction before he sought treatment. He found it at an intensive, faith-based residential program in Manchester.

Nashua Police Lt. David Bailey, who supervises a group of narcotics detectives and has watched prescription drug cases become the norm in his division.

Annette Escalante, vice president of Keystone Hall, which runs a 56-bed substance abuse treatment facility in Nashua.

Bill Hughen, a guidance counselor at Alvirne High School, who says schools try to help and educate, but the first line of defense starts at home.

Meghan Morrissey, a young woman living at Keystone Hall’s Cynthia Day Family Center, trying to raise young children while kicking addiction to pain killers.

Vahrij Manoukian, owner of Hollis Pharmacy and president of the state Board of Pharmacy. His son, Michael, died of a drug overdose in 2004 at the age of 24.

For those who can’t make it out Thursday night, there is an online discussion earlier in the day. The online panel will include:

Chuck Rosa, who swims in the ocean once a day to remember his boys, Dominic and Vincent, who died in 2003 and 2004 of overdoses. He tries to educate others to help them win their fight against addiction.

Tricia Lucas, advocacy director at New Futures, a nonprofit that works to reduce alcohol and drug problems in New Hampshire.

And Dr. Seddon Savage, director of the Center on
Addiction, Recovery & Education at Dartmouth College.

If you have been moved by the series or want to know more about what you can do for your family and your community, you are invited to join us Thursday online or in person.