New Ipswich

Cops offer drug detection insights

25 residents attend Police Department-initiated community outreach forum

  • New Ipswich Police Lt. Sean Cavanaugh, left, and Patrolman Scott Radford give a talk on recognizing symptoms of drug use to residents Monday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Police officials give a talk on recognizing symptoms of drug users to town residents Monday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

NEW IPSWICH — Some warning signs of drug use are obvious. Sudden change in grades or work performance, a complete change in social groups, bloodshot eyes and mood swings — these are all warning signs that people, especially parents, are warned to be mindful of. But for parents, sometimes the signs are more elusive.

Lt. Sean Cavanaugh and Patrolman Scott Radford, a certified drug recognition expert, spoke to about 25 residents and school officials who attended a police-sponsored drug recognition program presented Monday night at Mascenic Regional High School.

Cavanaugh assured the crowd that while New Ipswich does have drug problems, it is not a issue that is taking over the town. He said the point of the seminar was to have as many informed residents as possible, to make it more difficult for dealers who are in the area to attract new customers and sell in town.

“New Ipswich, like any town, is not immune to this kind of stuff. We don’t have an epidemic, but there is a drug problem. We need help and information from the community. We’re not going to solve the drug problem, but we can make it difficult for dealers to get new users,” Cavanaugh said.

Misuse of prescription medication is a rising problem, said Cavanaugh. It’s medications are often very accessible to young adults, and information on their effects, dosage and what constitutes an overdose are readily available online, because they’re meant for general use.

“Prescription pills are one of the big ones right now,” Cavanaugh said. “Kids are really gravitating towards that. Parents need to treat their prescriptions like we would treat a gun: Lock them up.”

New Ipswich has also been home to instances of cocaine, heroin and marijuana use, Cavanaugh said. Usually the cocaine and heroin come into town from the Fitchburg, Mass., area he said.

Radford told the crowd that when it comes to powdered drugs, a common practice is to store them in tied-off corners of plastic ziplock bags.

“If you find bags with the corners ripped off in your kid’s room, or just the corners, there’s a good chance you need to take a closer look,” he said. A common new trend for heroin addicts is to cut the heroin with depressants to make a powder referred to as “cheese,” which costs a fraction of the price of non-cut heroin while still retaining it’s highly addictive quality.

Police provided samples of both burnt and raw marijuana for the crowd to smell. The scent of both is very distinct, Radford told the crowd, and nothing else smells like marijuana. “You know what marijuana smells like? Marijuana,” he said.

Radford advised parents to be mindful of what may seem like stray trash in a teenager’s bedroom. Some of the hiding spots for marijuana, which can be bought online or in head shops, are designed to resemble innocuous things like soda cans or Pringles containers.

People are always endeavoring to find new and creative ways to access and consume illegal substances. Currently, one of the growing drug trends is known as “bath salts.” This is a chemical compound that, until recently, could be purchased legally. Though advertised as bath salts, or sometimes plant food, and say not for consumption on the package, the only purpose of them is to get people high, Radford told the crowd.

The drug is known by various other street names such as “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” “Vanilla Sky” and “Bliss.” Last year, a federal ban was placed on certain compounds within the drug, but Cavanaugh said that the chemists that create bath salts simply change the combination of chemical slightly to keep it technically legal. “With the amount of different types and the frequency with which they’re changing, it means that if you do a bath salt one day and hallucinate, that doesn’t mean every time you take a bath salt you will get that result. It’s unpredictable, and that’s what makes it dangerous,” Cavanaugh said.

As of Jan. 1 in New Hampshire, drivers impaired by bath salts and other chemical highs can be prosecuted for DWI, Radford said.

Bath salts are chemically different from actual bath products, which don’t have the same ability to produce a high, Radford said.

There are also new trends when it comes to underage drinking. Soaking gummy candies in vodka overnight allows the candy to soak up the alcohol. It’s odorless, but the gummies swell to twice the size and have a wet, slimy texture to them, Radford noted.

Residents with questions may email Radford at

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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