WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2014

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: http://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/359840

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wellesley Police Chief Terrence Cunningham knew some residents weren't going to sleep very well on the night of March 12, 2014. That evening, in front of an audience of approximately 200 PTO parents, he began a Power Point presentation detailing the variety of drugs currently in use at the high school. At the start of the lecture, familiar images flew by: pot pipes, bags of marijuana, Adderall, and cocaine. Many parents had strong awareness around these substances, but the slides kept on coming. Soon the images were of opiates, and then finally of heroin and its sinister paraphernalia. Bags of heroin recently seized in town were shown. By now, Chief Cunningham had everyone's full attention. "There has definitely been a shift," he says. "For the first time in my career, we are starting to see heroin at the high school." The rise of opiate and heroin use in Massachusetts has had a long genesis. "I started seeing this coming on about ten to twelve years ago," says Michael Furstenberg, a clinical psychologist at Human Relations Service in Wellesley and a specialist in addiction issues. "With the rise of Oxycontin, which has become much more of a destination drug, it engenders a whole new movement of abuse." In fact, the latest data available shows that the Boston area has the dubious distinction of having the highest rates of emergency room visits related to illegal drugs among the 11 largest metropolitan areas in the country. And Massachusetts's rate of illicit drug use among youths was higher than the national rate in 2011-12. "It's everywhere," says Linda Corridan, director of nursing at the Wellesley Public Schools. "I don't think we are different than any other community. No school district is insulated from any issue." In interviews for this article, there was no indication that heroin has found its way into Weston High School. "But just 97 f a l l 2 0 1 4 | W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e bad habits The Rise of Opiate Use in Massachusetts A L L I S O N I J A M S S A R G E N T writer P E T E R B A K E R photographer

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