It takes a village

In the Aug. 7 issue of the Observer, reader Shirlee Mangan wrote an letter titled “The Silent Epidemic of Drug Abuse.” She wrote: “As a mother and grandmother, I guess I wanted to believe that the rumors I have been hearing about the use of drugs among young people are untrue, and just that – rumors.” 

Don’t we all want to believe those are “rumors”? Unfortunately, as she surmised, and as many of us already know, young people – ranging from middle school children to young adults – are experimenting and abusing alcohol and other drugs in our community. Just like every suburb today – it’s everywhere.

In particular, prescription pain reliever abuse has become a major area of concern in recent years. Taken as prescribed, pain relievers effectively manage pain. In some people, however, prescription pain relievers can also affect the brain’s pleasure regions, causing euphoria or feelings of well-being. This is why they are abused.  

But painkillers are narcotic drugs, called opioids, and when used improperly, can be highly addictive and have the same physical and psychological effect as heroin. And since heroin is a cheaper alternative, more young people are switching to heroin.

Shirlee also wanted to know “How can we end this epidemic?” That’s a very good question and not one that is easy to answer. 

There are things, however, we can do as parents and a community. We can become more cognizant on what is going on around us by becoming involved. Involvement comes in many forms and one way is to educate ourselves about the community alcohol and other drug issues.

For chemical substance abuse/addiction isn’t just a youth or family problem – it is a community issue too. And because we are a caring community, we will do what it takes to help each other. 

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m. we will have an opportunity to learn more about alcohol and other drug use and what we can do, by attending a community-wide forum called “B.A.Y. Matters – Protecting Our Youth, Protecting Our Community” at the Bay High School auditorium. Watch the Observer for more news to come.

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Volume 4, Issue 17, Posted 10:01 AM, 08.21.2012