Dear Editor,

The drug epidemic in Carbon County must be addressed. All the signs of a drug epidemic are alive and well in Carbon County: deaths, suicides, drug arrests, traffic accidents, unemployment, drug-related crimes, blatant drug deals, prison overcrowding, the rise of single or sole parents, grandparents raising grandchildren, etc.

All you need to do is pick up a paper, watch the news or take a walk through any town and you will see the effects of drug abuse.

The drugs of today are not like the drugs of yesterday. Years ago some would pass around marijuana as a joint; now prescribed opiates are being passed around in school, at work, in bars or on the street corners.

They are even passed from family member to family member. Opiate addiction is a disease, but it is not infectious like other diseases. This disease spreads through peer groups and communities. It may eventually turn to the use of other deadly, illegal narcotics.

Opiates are painkillers that are derived from opium or synthetic versions of it and used in pain relief. Opiates decrease the perception of pain and can create a feeling of euphoria. This pleasant feeling often leads to addiction and causes physiological dependence. Because opiates are prescribed by a doctor does not mean they are safe to give to someone else or abuse the medication.

Opiate abuse is not prejudiced; it affects children, moms and dads, and even grandparents. It affects professionals and nonprofessionals; it affects the rich and the poor; it affects those returning from war. No one is immune to this horrible epidemic.

The recidivism rate in Carbon County is 94 percent, so obviously incarceration alone is not the answer.

The Carbon County prison system currently does not have the mandated treatment in place. We are sending offenders and addicts to prison, and they are receiving no treatment. Of course they will exhibit or fall into the same behavior when they are released.

We need to hold everyone accountable, we need to provide treatment and we need a drug court system in place in Carbon County. We cannot continue to ignore even the bare minimum of required services. We can't afford this huge drain on our county budget with no positive results.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Cindy Henning

Chairman

Jim Thorpe National Night Out Committee