Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jun 2000
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2000, Bangor Daily News Inc.
Contact:  http://www.bangornews.com/
Author: Dr. Robert Q. Dana lives in Bangor.

PREVENTING DRUG USE

There has been a lot of discussion recently concerning the scourge of
heroin and other opiate drug use in the Bangor area. I applaud the
Bangor Daily News and U.S. Attorney Jay McCloskey for initiating this
dialogue. We are all rightly concerned about our citizens and the
impact of drug abuse on both the individual drug user and the city of
Bangor.

To date, the discussion has focused on how to treat the
opiate-addicted individual. There are many viable options for helping
people with drug problems.

The local treatment community and the state need to partner to provide
the broadest and most efficacious range of solutions that will support
people with drug addictions while being sensitive to the needs of the
rest of the community.

With all this talk about heroin it's easy to forget that many other
drugs, including marijuana, hallucinogens, co-caine, alcohol and
myriad others, are also abused by schoolchildren and adults throughout
this region.

Our ''war'' will certainly be lost if we focus on one drug to the
exclusion of others or one aspect of the problem in favor of a
comprehensive view.

In this respect, we must try to avoid making this a discussion about
which treatment is best. This focus suggests we can cure the problem
by treating the individual drug user. Assuredly, those folks with a
drug problem deserve treatment and our community must provide
resources to make easy access to competent care available.

More important, however, is preventing drug use and
abuse.

We have been told that the problem is here, but we cannot retreat,
throw our hands up and hope that the problem will disappear simply by
providing treatment options.

It will not, unless our community  civic leaders, parents, students,
law enforcement officials, schools and school administrators, service
agencies, clergy and business leaders  come together to develop and
administer a comprehensive and sustained primary prevention approach
designed to stop drug use before it starts.

As a community, we need to partner with the State Office of Substance
Abuse, our school systems and law enforcement to create programs that
will be delivered from kindergarten through graduation to inoculate
our young people against drug use. There is no simple shot for this
inoculation, but we have lots of examples of excellent programs such
as DARE, which could be expanded to cover other grades, and we can
design other unique programs that work for our city.

A comprehensive prevention approach joined with a zero tolerance for
drug dealing and drug use will let us stand down this problem.

This approach will take a continuous focus and lots of hard work; but
aren't our children and this community worth the effort?
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