Friday, November 16, 2012
Editorial: A prescription for drug abuse
This week's summit is a good step toward combating drug abuse.
From the RoundTable blog
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Thirty years ago, President Reagan declared war on drugs, making it by far the longest-running war on American soil and one that continues to claim thousands of casualties each year, leaving no one's hometown unscathed.
Last year, 270 people in Western Virginia died from drug abuse - most of them accidentally from prescription drugs. Odds are if you live in places where drug overdoses claim more lives than auto accidents - places as diverse as Roanoke and Bland County - you've been to the funeral of someone who has died this way. Or, at the very least, you have acquaintances struggling with either their own or a family member's addiction.
Yet, rarely do we talk about this or look for ways to prevent the problem from spreading and to treat those it's already claimed.
Thankfully, that appears to be changing in our region due to U.S. Attorney Timothy Heaphy's recognition that the war on drugs can't be fought, as it has for too long, mostly in police stations and courtrooms, and to the willingness to join forces by those who seek to prevent and treat drug addiction.
On Wednesday, a summit was held in Wytheville that for the first time brought together professionals each of whom routinely focuses on one aspect of the problem. The day was spent listening to each other, defining the problem and its severity and agreeing to develop an action plan.
Over 30 years, little in the war on drugs has changed except for the type of drug most abused, owing to the rise and ebb in popularity of heroin, cocaine, crack, meth and, now, prescription painkillers.
The region's new approach is long overdue.