Alumna Organizes Drug Forum for Families In Brockton
March 29, 2010
By Maureen Boyle
Enterprise Staff Writer
Hillary Dubois can name at least a half-dozen former classmates from her days at Marshfield High School who got hooked on OxyContin and then turned to heroin.
"These are kids who were in National Honor Society, captains of sports teams, kids who came from two-parent homes, kids who went to good colleges," she said.
Now, Dubois is on the front lines of saving the lives of those addicted to opiates.
The new coordinator of the Brockton Mayor's Opioid Overdose Prevention Coalition is working with community leaders to host a citywide drug forum tonight at Brockton High School's green cafeteria, from 6:30 to 8. The program will help families learn the signs of drug use and where help can be found.
The forum is sponsored by the mayor's coalition, High Point Treatment Center, Mayor Linda Balzotti's office, Brockton Public Schools and Brockton District Court.
The program will feature presentations by experts in drug treatment and education fields as well as booths manned by more than 15 organizations and programs offering help.
Dubois, 26, first became interested in overdose prevention while taking a course at Stonehill College with professor Pam Kelley, who has done extensive studies with Brockton police and other communities mapping crime and developing statistical information on other issues.
In that class, Dubois learned about one of Kelley's studies about the effectiveness of Narcan - an antidote used to reverse a narcotic overdose - in Lynn and wondered why it wasn't used more often elsewhere.
"We were able to look at the data and see how effective it was," Dubois said.
She later did an internship in Ireland, working with recovering addicts in a prisoner re-entry program. In Ireland, heroin addiction is viewed as a disease, she said.
"Addiction is part of a person but it is not what defines them," Dubois said.
After graduating from Stonehill in 2006, Dubois went to Northeastern University to obtain a masters degree in criminology in 2007 and continued working in the drug addiction field both while in school and after graduation.
Dubois was named to the Brockton position earlier this year after her predecessor, Koren H. Cappiello, was named Brockton director of community and social services when Balzotti was elected mayor.
Dubois said she has seen the toll that opiates take on lives through her work and in the community.
One study by the Brockton coalition found that 38 people between Jan. 1, 2007, and Sept. 15, 2008, died of an opioid-related overdose. In 30 of the cases, the person was also using another drug or alcohol.
That study followed two similar reports by The Enterprise examining the toll that OxyContin and heroin have taken in the region.
Those special reports, "Wasted Youth" and "Wasted Youth- Deadly Surge," can be found on the Web at: www.enterprisenews.com.
Dubois said she hopes hundreds of people will turn out for tonight's forum to learn the signs of drug use and where help can be found.
For more information, contact Communications and Media Relations at 508-565-1321.