Recently, representatives from the Marblehead Cares Coalition spoke to a meeting of the Marblehead Rotary Club. The Coalition, a grass-roots organization of concerned residents who are trying to reduce underage alcohol and other drug use, took this opportunity to inform the Rotary of some of the challenges this small seaside community faces with its youth. The Coalition spokespeople related the usual difficulties with alcohol, marijuana and the other big challenges in the community, abuse of prescription drugs such as Adderal, Percocet and Vicodin. They mentioned that in addition to these drugs, the more dangerous drugs such as Cocaine were also readily available in town. After the formal presentation, a member of the Rotary approached the Coalition members and expressed her shock and surprise that a drug as “bad” as cocaine was in Marblehead.
Marblehead is known as an upscale bedroom community about 15 miles north of Boston. It is home to a number of wealthy titans of industry, is one of the central ports for the international yachting community and is regularly listed as having one of the best public school systems in the state. Underneath all this glitter, however, are the same problems facing all communities: poverty, addiction and criminal behavior. Many people seem to think that the drug problem exists only in the neighboring city of Lynn but that city only serves to supply much of the drug use in Marblehead. As there is considerable financial means in this town, there is a lot of money to spend on alcohol and other drugs.
A recent survey of some of the self-help group web sites (AA) , (NA) provides the following data:
Town #AA Mtgs/Wk #NA Mtgs/Wk #AA Mtgs/Wk per capita
Marblehead 58 0 0.0030
Danvers 24 0 0.0009
Salem 19 1 0.0005
Beverly 16 1 0.0004
Lynn 35 13 0.0004
Swampscott 3 0 0.0002
Peabody 7 2 0.0001
Marblehead has far and away the greatest number of AA meetings, per resident, of any of the neighboring communities. This includes Lynn, which has a rough reputation and actually is the supply source for much of the heavy drugs in the area.
There are two, very different conclusions one could draw from this data. The first is that Marblehead has a lot of people with a drinking problem. The second is that Marblehead is very advanced in its thinking and is way ahead in providing self help resources for those who might be in need.
People involved with the Marblehead self-help community will tell you that their meetings host many “out-of-towners” and that recently, there has been an influx of newcomers.
An April 13 article in the Lynn Daily Item covered a story on its front page that highlighted the younger ages of addicts in the local communities, and the lack of resources available to provide them with the help they need.
So what may we conclude from all this?
There continues to be a need for self-help and treatment services in the local area
No town or community is immune from this problem
Alcohol abuse, drug abuse and addictions are effecting people at younger ages than in previous times.
No community, no matter how affluent, can afford to ignore this problem.