Johann Hari is keynote speaker for Healthy Monadnock Summit

Summit focuses on building social connections to prevent and treat addiction

  • Johann Hari

Monday, May 02, 2016 7:20PM

Johann Hari, twice named Amnesty International journalist of the year and New York Times best-selling author of “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs,” will be the keynote speaker at the 5th Healthy Monadnock Community Summit on May 17, entitled “Tapestry of Hope: Preventing and Treating Addiction.”

This year’s summit will focus on building resilience and social connection to prevent and treat drug addiction.

In Hari’s book “Chasing the Scream,” he asserts that drug addiction is directly related to isolation and lack of connectivity; it is only by creating community supports that we have a chance of reaching people who are addicted.

While some of Hari’s points in his book have come into question by critics who say social connection is not the magic bullet, he does raise some interesting questions that could shed some light on this devastating problem in our nation, state and region, says Linda Rubin, director of Healthy Monadnock.

“Society’s approach over the past 75 years to reducing the impact of drug addiction clearly needs revamping,” says Rubin. She notes that from 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million Americans died from drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid overdose deaths, including both opioid pain relievers and heroin, hit record levels in 2014, with an alarming 14-percent increase in just one year. In New Hampshire, drug overdoses took more than 400 lives in 2015.

“This is a crisis of epidemic proportions,” says Rubin. “We need to start rethinking our common perceptions and biases about what causes addiction, and look at alternative ways to prevent and treat substance misuse.”

Healthy Monadnock’s goal for the 5th Annual Summit — in collaboration with community coalitions, local initiatives and other stakeholders — is to build community capacity to implement resilience-focused action strategies to prevent substance misuse and treat addiction in individuals, neighborhoods, cities and towns, notes Rubin.

The summit will also showcase Healthy Monadnock’s Community PhotoVoice Project — photographs taken by Monadnock region residents that symbolize hope in the face of addiction.

The summit will be held May 17, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will take place at Keene State College; a healthy breakfast and lunch will be provided to participants. Register for free at: www.healthymonadnock.org/calendar/tapestry-of-hope.

Healthy Monadnock 2020 is a community engagement initiative designed to foster and sustain a positive culture of health throughout Cheshire County and the Monadnock region.

Founded and developed by the Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene in 2007, Healthy Monadnock 2020’s action plans are being guided in the community by the Healthiest Community Advisory Board, a group of 30 individuals representing schools, organizations, coalitions and businesses.

Learn more at: www.healthymonadnock.org.