Small Town living, Big World Problems


Kieran Coffey

It’s no secret that there is an epidemic taking a hold of our small little community, and it threatens to envelop us more and more each day. That epidemic comes in the form of drugs. Drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine have infiltrated our tranquil, humble abode slowly and have begun to take over.
However, there is an even bigger threat to our community that many remain unaware of; whether it’s because of the fact that they chose to ignore it, or that they simply just don’t know about it. That threat comes in the form of prescription drugs.
Many people say that marijuana is a ‘gateway’ drug.
I witnessed a court case just the other day where a Father came in to support a son who had stolen an item of great value from him in order to fuel his drug addiction. That Father testified in court that his son’s addiction began at the tender age of 15, when he was prescribed Oxycontin by a doctor to treat a minor injury. That is what, in my personal opinion, can be classified as a ‘gateway’ drug.
Whenever someone reads a story in the paper or watches a news piece regarding a drug arrest, they are quick to assume that the individual has always been a ‘less than reputable’ character. While sometimes that is true, it is usually not the case. In fact, most times, the individual was a grade-A student who happened to be led astray by hanging with the wrong crowd, or in some cases, inadvertently got addicted to prescription medications, and needed to find a cheaper alternative to reach that ‘high’ when their prescription expired.
The District Attorney’s Office and the Judges around the County are doing their best to help solve this immensely troubling problem, but by the time most of the drug-related cases reach them, it is often too late. Sure, they can sentence someone to drug treatment court, but we need to put preventative measures in place to ensure that cases never even have to get that far in the first place.
The other alternative to drug treatment court is a hard dose of reality; meaning prison. Sending these poor, young, misguided souls to prison, some of whom are first-time offenders, won’t help solve or curb the addiction problem in our community.
I believe Macklamore said it best in his new song ‘Drug Dealer’
“Best friends with the thing that’s killing me;
Enemies with my best friend, there’s no healing me.”
What people need to understand is that addiction is a disease, just like any other. Counties have multiple programs dedicated to addressing alcohol addiction and mental health issues, so why not drug addiction?
We need to start programs to help those who are afflicted with this terrible ailment, before it’s too late.
It is a welcome change to see initiatives like the ‘Shed the Meds’ event and free narcan training that was held in Greene in late September, which was also attended by Senator Fred Akshar. During this event, attendees were invited to turn in their unused prescription medications in an effort to prevent them from getting on the streets. The event also aimed to provide awareness of opioid abuse.
With more initiatives such as this, we can help raise the awareness needed in the community to get new programs instituted, which will hopefully ensure that someone else doesn’t just become a statistic.
We all need to play a part in taking back our community, and making it a happy, thriving, drug-free place to live once more.