As of Tuesday, December 26, 2017
In this last week, Idaho County has had two major drug overdoses of young adults. Both were found unconscious. What brings a young person to this place in his/her life – willingly and self-induced?
The answers can be complicated.
Idaho County Sheriff personnel in the last 90 days have initiated 53 charges of drug-related offenses, resulting in 32 citations or arrests, a continuously growing local statistic. Our county has put ever-increasing emphasis on drug interdiction and has made considerable strides in drug trafficking arrests. We have intentionally increased DUI interception and drug searches. In the end, police can no more stop use of drugs than they can stop people from speeding by issuing citations. Our law enforcement system has no solution to drug use other than incarceration and a small psychological influence as deterrent.
Jail or prison may interrupt the addiction but does not resolve the origin of the problem. For the user, what starts out as adventure, rebellion, or peer pressure ends too often with felony conviction, a 911 call, or heartbreak. An arrest record rarely fixes the attitude or the mind-set about drugs. The lifestyle is miserable and cyclical even for those who find ways to manage their habits. Nobody wins.
Most perceive drug-related deaths of young people to be more tragic, even though the problem exists across all age groups. The youngest among us are the least able to cope with the issues surrounding drug and alcohol consumption, and the least able to deal with the destructive results.
Ultimately, law enforcement is the system that is most often called upon to make the criminal arrest and issue the “punishment” for drug and alcohol behaviors. It is shortsighted and naïve to think that the legal system is the solution to the rising drug problem. It is also shortsighted and naïve to think that drug problems only happen in bad family settings. All socio-economic groups can and do have drug and alcohol-related issues.
At the beginning of drug use, there exists no truthful realistic picture, but plenty of encouragement from peers, media, and song lyrics glorifying the rush. Drugs are promoted, accepted, maybe even expected as rite of passage, with no real source of help or recovery when the fun ends. At first the decision may be subtle and “innocent” but for many the hook is set on first and second use. If a person finds out they like the drug feeling, they will be back for more. On some occasions, misuse or overuse ends a life all too early. These deaths are not “accidents.” They are the result of risky, self-destructive choices.
In Idaho County, the drugs of choice are alcohol, marijuana and meth, with heavier drugs rising in popularity. The beliefs and cultural attitudes that condone the drug use and make it seem OK inevitably evolve into blaming somebody when the fantasy doesn’t work out and life gets messy.
It seems to me to be outrageous that with the difficulties we have as a society associated with drug abuse that neighboring states are exacerbating the problem by legalizing marijuana, further promoting its use. We can’t even manage our alcohol troubles. This is not going in the right direction. Law enforcement alone is not going to fix this fascination with intoxication. We as a people must begin to acknowledge the subtle but deadly origins of the drug attraction.
According to mental health sources, the top 10 reasons people seek intoxication:
• Social events – fun, lowers inhibitions
• Popular media and music make it seem cool
• Escape and self-medication to “feel” better
Rebellion – defying the system
• Instant shortcut to happiness
• Boost confidence and relieve social anxiety
• To look and feel “grown up” or cool
• Misinformation -thinking it is harmless