Combating drug addiction is a community-wide effort

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Dear Editor:

It is said that the first shot of heroin is an experiment; the second, a habit. That once you get the ‘kiss of God,’ you will chase that high for the rest of your life — unless you’re smart enough to get help.

In Canton, we have a group that is trying to be pro-active to try and get out in front of the epidemic we now have in this ‘sweet’ town.

We will be learning more about what concrete steps to take to offset the allure of heroin at future community events, including the town Health Fair in October. One answer seems obvious. If you are a teenager in love with your sport or band or extracurricular activity, you are a good bet to avoid life-taking drugs. If you have a doctor who has emphasized to you after surgery that Oxycontin must be avoided as soon as the edge is taken off your pain, moving on to Tramadol and then to Tylenol, then you have a good chance of not getting hooked.

We all know that you have to start young, to build up a resistance through a supportive family, other constructive interests, and the knowledge that no one is truly safe. No matter what the governor says, cutting funds to such agencies that provide drug rehab, mental health care, and the Department of Children and Families is not the answer.

I’m hoping we won’t just be talking as the politicians do, but can actually be effective. I’m also just as sure that no matter what we do, no matter how many townfolk get involved in working with at-risk kids, we may still bury a few more drug addicts. Here’s another question: How do you determine who is “at risk?” We’re burying 40-year-old adults. Drugs are easily obtained. Do we want some narcs in the high school or middle school, such as portrayed in the old TV series “21 Jump Street?” It probably wouldn’t work, but there are many answers, many things to try, including after-school sports, games and projects for non-varsity folks.

Who among us has lost a parent, spouse or someone they’re close to? They’re a target of opportunity for the drug dealers. Just had surgery? There’s another transition from Oxycontin to health or heroin. Do you have someone you can call just to vent when you’re frustrated? If not, you may be at risk for the allure of heroin. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been so broken-hearted at one time or another that just having reality blotted out for a while would be welcome.

Who among us can be mentors to these folks, making sure they have the support they need — not just after the funeral, if a death is involved, but for many months beyond?

Parents are getting home at 6 or later, working 60-hour weeks to support our lifestyles. What are those kids doing between 3 and 6? Do they have computers in their bedrooms, free to roam the Internet at will without parental supervision? Those electronic devices can be instruments of destruction, if used the wrong way. “Just say No” doesn’t cut it. We have to get at the basic drives and frustrations that lead to snorting or shooting heroin by putting roadblocks or diversions in their way. Our preventative measures should be many and diverse. It won’t happen to you or anyone you love? Don’t bet on it.

What can you do? The meetings of the town’s substance abuse coalition are held once a month on Mondays at 3:30 p.m. at the Parks and Recreation building. We can’t just offload this to the professionals. It does indeed take a village to raise a drug-free child. Thanks to Fire Chief Doody, Police Chief Berkowitz, and Assistant Recreation Director Nick Pirelli, we may get a grasp on the problem. Stay tuned for official announcements of personnel paid to lead the effort.

Alice Copeland Brown

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avatar Posted by on Aug 28 2015. Filed under From One Citizen to Another, Opinion.
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