New Hampshire DEA program targeting kids in the fight against opioids

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Hundreds of volunteers are being trained in New Hampshire for a unique outreach program to fight the opioid epidemic.

Last month, FOX25 reported Manchester was selected as part of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s 360 program.

Officials predict nearly 500 people will die from opioid overdoses in New Hampshire this year. Many of those will be parents of young children.

Teachers, community volunteers and police officers all learned how to talk to those kids about recognizing addiction in their own families.

For so many New Hampshire families, it’s a grim reality. Heroin and fentanyl are part of the daily life at home.

“It's in everybody's neighborhood, it's on the news every night and we know it's part of these kids' dialogue,” DEA Special Agent Jon DeLena said.

DeLena helped launch DEA 360 in Manchester in November. It’s a community education and outreach program designed to fight the opioid epidemic.

FOX25 cameras got an exclusive first look at a DEA 360 training class for community members.

"It's really important to intervene as early as possible," said Kevin Collins, from the Partnership for Drug Free Kids.
Collins is leading the training, giving parents, educators, even police officers, a script for how to start a dialogue about drugs with young children.

“They're loved and they have value and they are not alone in this,” Collins said.

The DEA hopes everyone will take those tools and use them in the classroom and in their neighborhood as a way to encourage prevention and recovery from the inside out.

“We're trying to educate people on how to have conversations at home, but we are also trying to empower the kids to say, ‘hey, this is happening in your home or around you, there are outlets you can go to, people you can talk to,’” DeLena said.

Officials say empowering those kids starts far earlier than you might think.