June 15, 2015

The Scourge of Drugs

As my wife and I walked the streets of Lee District gathering signatures on a petition, we met a woman who told us her 20 year old son had recently died from a heroin overdose.

She described some of the family trauma that resulted from this event while stressing that the county should develop an aggressive intervention strategy to save the lives of our children who get led into the dark world of drug use. She noted that the county has drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities available, however, the challenge is to intervene in such a way that our young people will embrace what the programs offer.

This prompted me to review the Crime in Virginia report from the State Police. The report showed that of the 23 Group A Offense categories over the years 2007 to 2013, the percentage of offenders has increased in only 5 of the 23 categories. Of that 5, the 3 that stood out to me were what I consider “feeling altering” categories - Drugs, Pornography and Prostitution.

What really alarmed me was the statistics describing the 2013 young drug offenders by age — 88% from 17 to 15, 11% from 14 to 13, and 1.4% from 12 to under 10. The mental image of a 10 year old using drugs made my heart ache.

It appears today’s culture has devolved to one where many of our children grow up in an environment that is inundated with images and messages that drugs aren’t really all that bad, that using drugs to make themselves “feel” better is OK. And I see no indication that this problem is going to do anything but get worse! In early 2014, a Culpeper law enforcement professional said that, since the beginning of 2013, they've seen over 20 deaths attributed to heroin overdose! And in a recent Fauquier Times’ list of 49 Grand Jury Indictments, almost half involved drugs or alcohol.

Children who have come to believe that using drugs is “normal” need intervention if they are ever to live rewarding lives as adults. They need to be made to understand the harm drugs will inflict on their lives. It appears to me that most parents are willing to intervene, to do whatever it takes, but they cannot do it alone.

Our communities need to invest time and energy encouraging and supporting our medical and law enforcement organizations to develop a strategy of vigorous intervention. Tough problems require tough solutions and this problem needs to be solved before more sons and daughters are lost to the scourge of drugs. If we can make more intervention options available, I believe most affected parents will be ready and willing to make the hard choices needed for the sake of their children.

It is time to rethink that old African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” and consider, “ it takes a community to save a child”.

Rex A. Hoover