Opioids have ravaged Main Street

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Friday, November 24, 2017

On Main Street, you’ll find every class of person. You’ll meet a mix of the people who run the town and the people that make the town go. The people who own businesses and the people who work in them.

Main Street in Antrim is such a place. There are businesses on the rise, like Ragdoll Animation. And there are rent-by-the-week apartments, where tenants come and go. There are transplants from Massachusetts and longtime residents who love Antrim.

But behind this quintessential downtown hides a serious epidemic.

Since 2015, there have been 19 heroin-related instances — death investigations and arrests — in the downtown Antrim area, according to Police Chief Scott Lester. It’s a number that doesn’t necessarily include all overdoses, just the ones Antrim police responds to. There have been a handful more deaths by overdose in the same time period, Lester said.

“We’re dealing with the same thing every other community is dealing with,” said Lester.

Heroin has ravaged Main Street America and Antrim is no different.

There were 420 drug-related deaths in 2015, according to statistics from New Hampshire Bureau of EMS. That’s a number that’s risen sharply through the years. This year, at least one person has died of an overdose in Antrim, Rindge and Greenville, statistics show.

And, earlier this year, a man was arrested for using heroin behind the Antrim Town Hall.

We went door-to-door to ask residents of Main Street about heroin and if it’s really as bad as the numbers show.

We talked to everyone who was home. And everyone on the street. The kid coming off the ConVal High School bus. The couple unloading groceries. The contractor from Peterborough who said he doesn’t know anyone affected by the opioid epidemic.

New residents, those who have lived in town for less than a year, share this opinion. But those who have lived here for a while, have gut-wrenching stories to share.

People like the Tabakarus, who we featured alongside this column. The Tabakarus took custody of their grandchildren after the kids’ mother got in a car accident and struggled with an opioid addiction.

We talked to Jennifer Champagne, who lives in an apartment in a faded yellow Main Street building that looks like a meetinghouse. She says she remembers a raid in the back of the building a few years ago.

We talked to people who didn’t want us to give their name. They told us about how easy it is for them to get fentanyl. They told us who to buy it from.

We talked to a grandmother from Weare, who told us about her daughter who used to live in the faded yellow house and was addicted to opioids. She was in town to see her newborn grandson — her son lives in the same building.

And we talked to Bob Eaves, who has lived in the Antrim/Bennington area for 45 years. We talked about his son, who has struggled with a heroin addiction. Eaves has given him CPR on a handful of occasions.

Eaves says his son is improving. 

Eaves acknowledged that heroin was an issue in Antrim. But like other longtime residents, Eaves doesn’t plan on moving.

“You can get that stuff anywhere,” Eaves said. “It’s not easy to get away from it.”