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October 22. 2013 10:09PM

Pinkerton Academy to host substance abuse forum

DERRY — An informational forum has been scheduled for next month at Pinkerton Academy to help the community learn about substance abuse.

The forum is called “Substance Misuse in our Communities: What do you Know?” It is scheduled to run from 5 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at Pinkerton’s Stockbridge Theatre.

“It’s a major problem now, and there is a lot of misinformation out there,” said Pam Santa Fe, a substance misuse prevention coordinator for the Greater Derry Public Health Network. “I don’t envy young people with what they are going through. They can ruin their lives. We need to take this on as a community, and this is why this is being held.”
The forum is coming after the recent drug overdose death of Brittany Flannigan, 19, of Derry. Flannigan, a Pinkerton graduate, is suspected of overdosing on a pure form of the drug ecstasy known as Molly at the House of Blues nightclub in Boston.

Santa Fe said Flannigan’s death has had an influence, but it isn’t the only reason for the forum. If the tragedy didn’t happen, the forum still would have been held, she said.“I believe it would have happened anyway, but certainly it pushed it. It brings it out in the spotlight,” she said. “It’s sad that we need a tragedy to bring this out, but unfortunately that’s what has happened.”

Santa Fe praised Pinkerton Academy Headmaster Mary Anderson for being instrumental in helping bring the issue of substance abuse before community.

In recent weeks, Santa Fe said a number of organizations and officials have been receptive to holding the forum and have reached out to help in the effort.

“It’s a testament to the kindness of this community, ” she said. “I just put one email out and I had a number of organizations come forward. It just speaks to the community and their eagerness to take this on.”

Participating in the event will be specialists and professionals, along with state officials, health professionals and members of law enforcement. Mental health professionals and representatives from diversion programs and other community organizations are also scheduled to participate.

Santa Fe said the program will provide an interactive informational forum for parents, students, staff and the community at large. Those attending will have the opportunity to ask questions, she said.

The panel of experts joining the forum will include: Timothy Rourke, Governor’s Commission on Substance Abuse; Jim Reams, Rockingham County Attorney; Lisa Mure, Community Health Institute; Capt. Vernon Thomas, Derry Police Department; Dr. Thomas Scott, Parkland Medical Center; Deanna Barreiro, Parkland Emergency Department; Dr. Louise Morin-Davy, Center for Life Management; Jessica Beaudoin, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Center for Life Management; Kimberly Bavaro, Juvenile Diversion Program-The Upper Room. Following the presentation, professionals will be on hand to address questions and concerns.

Organizers of the forum are seeking input from the community on what specific information, topics and questions they want addressed by this or future programs. Whether attending the forum or not, community members are encouraged to complete a brief online survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GDPHNSurvey

Registration is not required to attend the forum. For more information, contact Santa Fe at pamsantafe@derrynh.org or call 819-8476.


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