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Editorial: Drug abuse prevention efforts much needed

Sep. 27, 2013 @ 12:29 AM

It is not a pretty picture.

But it is one we need to study long and hard.

Tuesday, Huntington police discovered a car along 8th Avenue, and inside were a man and woman passed out with uncapped, hypodermic needles in their laps. Crying in the back seat was their 3-year-old daughter.

Although tests still need to be run, investigators believe the drug involved was heroin, which has become so prevalent in our region as a less expensive or more available alternative to prescription pain pills. It is another startling reminder of the danger of that drug abuse.

“Somebody’s got an addiction that strong – it takes over their life,” Huntington Police Cpl. Gary Queen told The Herald-Dispatch. “That’s all they think about, and you’ve got a child involved.”

We suspect this couple never expected to end up like that, nor do the other teens and young adults who begin experimenting with pain pills. As prescription drug abuse began to spread in our region a decade ago, many of the cases involved adults who had begun taking pills for an injury or disability and then developed a habit. But increasingly pain pills have become a recreational or party drug.

Clearly, many of these first-time users do not understand what they are getting into, and recently U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook met with students at Huntington Middle School to help them understand the dangers. A big part of the presentation was a 17-minute, locally produced video that tells stories of addiction and the tragic consequences.

Goodwin's office and the Huntington Police Department worked together to develop the video, called "E.O.D.: Equal Opportunity Destroyer," with Huntington’s Trifecta Productions. To their credit, the students seemed to get the message.

"It's like a wake-up call," said 13-year-old Claire Aulick. "When you're a kid you don't even know what a drug is until you watch a video like this. That's going to be an impact on a lot of kids' lives."

While the community’s first reaction to growing drug abuse is understandably law enforcement pressure and prosecution, it is critical that local, state and federal agencies invest in this type of prevention education.

Particularly with prescription drugs, young people often have an unfortunate comfort level with the pain pills because they look like “medicine.” But the film and real-life news events underscore that these are powerful narcotics that can lead to even more dangerous and unpredictable heroin addictions.

That is a story we cannot tell too often.

 

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