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Why Can’t We Tackle Drug Abuse Next?
By Nancy Lammie, Publisher

You’ll forgive me if this publisher’s note has a decidedly personal side to it.

I have a niece who grew up in what most would call a nice, even affluent, neighborhood. There she attended a high school known for the quality of its academics, its facilities, and its ability to prepare its students for life.

Unfortunately, for my niece, that institution also was the place she was first introduced to drugs, specifically, heroin.
I’m not naming the school because, sadly, this situation is not unique to it; rather, it’s an all-too-common story played out potentially in every high school in America, whether rural, urban, suburban, affluent, or poor.

And it has reached pandemic proportions.

I chose the word pandemic intentionally. As I sit here thinking about the devastation heroin has wrought on the literally millions of individuals negatively impacted by addiction, I can’t help but also think about the COVID-19 pandemic and massive, seemingly nonstop attention it has gotten from politicians, the medical community and, of course, the media.

To be sure, I understand the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s frightening to think how quickly it appeared on the scene and how quickly it took so many lives.  But, as politicians often like to say, we are capable of “walking and chewing gum at the same time.” So, I simply cannot understand the lack of media attention, school programming and government policy focus on the opioid crisis that is decimating our younger generation.

I’ve learned much just by talking to my niece. She shared with me that she would never have tried heroin in a million years if she had known anything about the drug.

I know. I can almost feel many of you rolling your eyes in disbelief. But I believe her, just as I believe so many alcoholics who took their first drink at an early age or those now suffering with cancer, breathing issues or physical infirmities because years ago someone offered them that first cigarette.

My niece can only speak to what she knows. Growing up in an affluent area, she said heroin was never discussed. Early on, she didn’t see firsthand the impact it could have on people. (Unfortunately, she now knows several young people, some of whom were her friends or classmates, who have passed away from a drug overdose.)

She also said she absolutely believes if schools placed more of an emphasis on educating students on the dangers of heroin and ALL drugs, it would make a big difference. (Here’s where I’ll get a little political: I’d rather see schools introduce curricula on this topic than some of the ideas they’ve introduced recently.)

Parents and grandparents should be most especially concerned about this. But in truth it should worry everyone who cares about our society. Drug abuse is an “equal opportunity destroyer”. It destroys lives and devastates families across socioeconomic lines. No doubt every family in America has been negatively impacted by our drug problem. 

My niece seems to be one of the lucky ones: her recovery appears to be working. She credits believing in something greater than yourself and, for her, that meant faith in God. Her family, especially her mother, never gave up on her and helped instill in her the desire for a better life.

If the COVID pandemic has taught us anything it’s that America is uniquely positioned and uniquely blessed to respond to seemingly insurmountable challenges - when motivated to do so.

So, my question is: when will we see the drug crisis for what it is: an insidious poison claiming too many of our young people and rotting away the foundation of our future society.

Could we possibly convince   tech giants to use their platforms to educate our young on the dangers of drugs? Maybe CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC, and CBS can place more of an emphasis on the opioid epidemic and —on a more positive note—focus on medical, government and community efforts and successes toward eradicating this disease. I don’t have all the answers. But my niece has provided me with lots of questions.

Questions we’d better answer before it’s too late - next time it may be your child or grandchild.



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