Pubdate: Sun, 09 Jan 2005
Source: Eagle-Tribune, The (MA)
Copyright: 2005 The Eagle-Tribune
Author: Jonathan W. Blodgett
Note: Jonathan  W. Blodgett is the Essex County, Massachusetts district


A fight we must not lose Essex County is confronting an epidemic that makes
no distinction  between so-called good kids and troubled, between rich and
poor, or young and  old. Heroin in the Northeast is highly addictive,
unforgiving, and lethal. Law enforcement throughout Essex County recognizes
that this poison is increasingly finding its way to young people, destroying
and claiming their  lives.

Across Essex County, in cities and suburbs alike, dozens of people fell
victim to opiates in 2004. Sadly, some of the victims made the decision to
use heroin for the first time, and that decision cost them their lives. It's
a fact that if not for the drug Narcan, which counteracts the effects of
opiates, the number of overdose deaths would have been even more staggering.

Drug dealers have artificially deflated the price of heroin, creating a new
generation of addicts.

At some point, prices will increase and the resulting crime wave will flood
the streets of our communities as addicts do whatever is necessary in order
to support their habits.

We are, in fact, starting to see a  rise in housebreaks, armed robberies,
and other violent and property crimes,  greatly impacting public safety and
the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Heroin today is cheaper than a
six-pack of beer and, in some cases, easier to obtain.

It no longer needs to be injected, but can be sniffed, taking away the
stigma once attached to its use and providing a false sense of security. But
there is no security with opiates.

Our children need to know that heroin use brings nothing but despair.

They will either wind up dead, in jail, or will  be addicted to the drug for
the rest of their lives.

It cannot be an option. For the lives of our children, and for the safety of
the public, we must meet this epidemic head-on with all the strength and
commitment that parents, law enforcement, educators, clergy, community and
peer leaders can bring to the fight. We must work as one to teach young
people that there is no second chance  with heroin, and give them a
foundation of knowledge to help them make good decisions in their lives.
While a three-pronged strategy of law enforcement, treatment and education
is imperative, it is education that will have the greatest impact in
stemming the  demand for heroin.

And while statistics reflect the lives we lose, there are no  reliable
statistics to tell us how many lives may be saved through our combined
efforts. All of us must accept the responsibility to educate and protect our
children, and help ensure the safety of our citizens. The war against this
heroin epidemic is a fight we must not lose.
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