THIS ARTICLE IS NOT SPECIFICALLY ABOUT METHABPHETAMINE, BUT THIS WOULD BE FANTASTC FOR METH AWARENESS TOO!
Recovering addicts will be the stars of public service announcements, planned by the Portsmouth Police Department, in an effort to connect people struggling with addiction with people who can help.
It’s a project being led by police detective Rebecca Hester, while Portsmouth Police Commissioner Jerry Howe, his wife Jocelyn Frechette and a family trust they manage have donated a combined $5,750 toward the cost of producing the video announcements.
“We can’t afford to only talk about prevention and education as an answer, without addressing the very real immediate need of those families and individuals already embroiled in the struggle,” Hester said. “Yes, we have to enforce and arrest people, but everyone wants to see people be successful. I have an investment in this community. I’m a parent in this community.”
Announcements about the donations and the PSAs come in the same month that Keith Napolitan, 43, and Cassie Clermont, 30, died in Portsmouth of what police are calling apparent heroin overdoses. Firefighters have responded to other overdoses and in several instances used the opiate antidote Narcan to revive overdose victims, Fire Chief Steve Achilles has said.
The goal of the PSAs is twofold, according to Hester. One is to use the voices of people in recovery to reach others struggling with addiction, as well as their families.
“Our hope is that we will catch that person who might be right on the bubble and give them that path,” she said. “It is incredibly brave to be willing to put yourself out there. I only hope that we can honor that and reach some people who need the message they can bring.”
The announcements will include contact information for resources, Hester said.
The other goal, she said, is to educate the community that addiction “affects everyone.” Hester said she’s spoken with people outside law enforcement and asked for their input about how to reach people using drugs like heroin. She heard from all of them that every family has some connection to someone suffering with addiction.
“Most of us know someone impacted by addiction, but we don’t talk about it,” said Hester, adding that for some people in recovery, anonymity is valuable.
For others, she said, talking about it helps them and likely helps struggling addicts. Frank talk by people who’ve been there could remove stigma eclipsing paths to recovery, she said.
“We have several individuals and families that are willing to put themselves out there to the public as the voice of the project and we have the support of the professional communities impacted directly,” she said.
Jason Corkum, 38, recently gave an interview to Seacoast Sunday about his battle with an addiction to crack cocaine while working in the local restaurant industry. Now clean and sober for almost two years, Corkum said he enjoys a new truck, trips to sports events and plans to buy a house within five years. He’s also been speaking publicly about his own recovery.
Similarly, former Portsmouth High School football star Jamie Pointer recently spoke from the state prison where he’s incarcerated for robbing a bank while addicted to crack cocaine. Pointer said he, too, hopes to serve as a role model in recovery.
The pending public service announcements, according to Hester, are “not about enforcement or laws, scare tactics or blame.”
“It’s about people and about community,” she said. “It’s about changing stereotypes of who an addict is and is not. It is about coming together to support those directly struggling with addiction and their families to try to remove some of the barriers to treatment and recovery.”
The interview-style videos will focus on people in recovery, community statistics and the impact on social services, the medical community, treatment facilities and police, Hester said. One will be three minutes long and another, produced to air as a television commercial, will be 30 seconds long.
The main message, she said, is that “the community as a whole supports people getting help and that we want people to get help.”
The project has the support of Portsmouth Regional Hospital, the state Department of Health and Human Services, local law enforcement and treatment providers, she said.
“We want it to be just one voice and we want to present this as a whole,” Hester said. “We all recognize there’s a problem and something needs to be done.”
Drive Time Productions and Anchor Line Productions of Portsmouth have been retained to film and produce the videos. To help pay the cost, Howe and Frechette donated $1,000, Frechette’s siblings donated $1,750 and their family trust fund, Banyan Fund, donated $3,000.
Howe cited recent heroin deaths in Portsmouth and a national addiction problem as his family’s reason for donating to help cover the cost of the video project. He called it “absolutely critical” that the local addiction problem be addressed.
Hester said their donation will cover about half the cost of producing the public service announcements. Anyone wishing to donate to help pay the balance is urged to contact Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perhaps, Hester said, the video announcements will also lead to more treatment options.