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Feb 22, 2016 4:45 PM

Landrigan: Shaheen visits Seacoast anti-substance abuse program, pushes for more federal money

SEABROOK - The state’s senior senator has been on a listening tour regarding the drug epidemic, and on Monday, she made a timely stop on the Seacoast.

"Because everywhere I have been in the last year people have said we need resources,’’ U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said.

Shaheen is pushing for more federal support to fight the drug epidemic, and it comes at a critical juncture.

The U.S. Senate is poised to debate the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act or CARA to support a coordinated strategy to battle drug addiction.

Shaheen has her own wish list for $600 million in more grants for treatment, education and recovery.

"We don’t have enough treatment for people who need help; we don’t have enough counselors, we don’t have funding for our crime lab,’’ Shaheen said reciting some of the deficiencies.

A licensed mental health counselor said the biggest community obstacle remains the stigma of drug abuse as a disease.

"Those drug addicts; it’s their fault. They made this to happen,’’ Barry Timmerman said. "Why should we be compassionate towards them? There’s still a great deal of difficulty accepting the concept of addiction.’’

The head of Seacoast Youth Services recalls how one youth opened up after a trip to Fenway Park.

"This kid actually stood up on the center field bleachers and started singing and the whole, all of Fenway Park, they put him on the Jumbotron and he really started coming out of his shell,’’ said Vic Maloney, executive director.

Shaheen remains optimistic she can get the Senate to support her spending request.

"We need to get the resources to because as we are hearing here, they have more people they could treat if they had the resources to do it,’’ Shaheen said.

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