America's Drug Epidemic – No Clear Answer

By
Tim Sharp


Updated Tue, Dec 3, 2013 9:26 am
Photo Credit: 
Soozan Palsa
WOUB News Director Tim Sharp.

Normally this spot is reserved for the Director’s Blog.  However, if key staff members of WOUB Public Media have opinions that are germane to public issues, we will begin to run their thoughts in this spot until we have created a new place for their views.  Today, News Director Tim Sharp shares his views of the drug epidemic we are facing as a nation and in our region.

Very few careers are given as gifts. Becoming a teacher, an elected official, a successful athlete all require substantial commitment and preparation so it is sad and often surprising when mistakes - deliberate mistakes - flush those careers down the toilet.
 
Last month we reported about people in each of these careers lured away by drugs. Among those were a former teacher, 28-year-old Alexandra Lemley, so totally ensnared by the disease of drugs that she admitted that even as she was being processed into the Washington County Jail she was hiding heroin in a body cavity.
 
The story of a teacher falling to drugs still shocks us but more shocking was the news that Florida Representative Trey Radel had been arrested in cocaine sting. He still has his job but there's little doubt his career is swirling down. And Alex Rodriguez, though still playing in advance of a 211-game suspension will suffer a life-long stain on an otherwise stellar career.

Hard workers all. Each committed – each prepared – each gainfully engaged in careers they probably at least enjoyed and likely relished yet each fell to those damn drugs.

So, drugs kill careers and ruin lives. They kill people through overdoses and murders committed by those slobbering for money to support their nefarious habits.
Parents kill their children in meth lab fires and in drug induced psychoses.
Conclusion: For those with the habit nothing is more powerful than drugs.

Not money, not love.

Nothing.

It would be satisfying to offer an answer to the problem but as they say "I got nothin."
Drug interdiction efforts continue. Drug arrests are made every day in our region. Anti-drug advertising continues. Drug treatment continues. I suppose we could do more but from where I'm sitting as a journalist and educator, it appears drug suppliers and users will always stay ahead of any countering efforts.

It might be tempting at this point to just let the drugs win. Legalize them, all of them. That would relieve the burden on our judicial system, it might even create additional revenue streams for government.

The problem is the effects of even legal drug use isn't confined to the user. Their addictions and their deaths pain family and friends. Drug stupors still kill others and a societies die bit by bit as each drug works its way into the minds of its otherwise brilliant and productive members.

Maybe we should back up just one step and see if there is something better than drugs. Perhaps we could broadly ask why. Why are drug users heading down that path?

Oh – those questions are already being asked?

Maybe this then – let's guilt-trip drug users?
 
Pay drug users not to use?
 
What?

As I said, I got nothin.'