The problem locally may not be as prevalent as we have seen elsewhere in the U.S., but heroin is definitely here in the Golden Isles.
A bust earlier this month proves that beyond the shadow of a doubt. Local police, along with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, arrested a man they say was carrying around $16,000 worth of the highly addictive drug. Sadly, it was just one bust of many that may be needed to make a dent in the growing problem.
It is something officers like Glynn County Police Capt. David Hassler know well.
“It’s here,” he told The News recently. “It’s a growing concern. We haven’t had a real problem with it in the last few years. But now we’re seeing heroin coming back into favor, and we’re seeing more and more of it.”
It is good to know local police are doing their part to combat it before heroin addiction gets out of control in the Golden Isles.
Making arrests of dealers is only half the battle, however.
Drugs like heroin are highly addictive and pull people deep into a hole out of which climbing is a major struggle. Too often the end result is a overdose. We are not immune locally. As opioid-based pain killers have become harder to get on the black market, heroin has made a comeback.
Addiction does not limit itself to one drug or one type of person. Addiction is a disease about which law enforcement can do little.
A report released by the U.S. Surgeon General late in 2016 showed almost 22.5 million people reported using an illegal drug in the prior year.
What’s more, 78 people die every day in the U.S. from opioid overdose and more than 300,000 people reported using heroin in the prior year.
The kicker — only one in five people who need treatment for opioids is getting it.
Clearly more resources are needed to combat the disease of addiction. It is a disease that knows no race, gender or class. Addiction is a crisis that will require every community to do its part, and we have a moral obligation to help.
Locally, we have a drug court program that seeks to steer people away from incarceration and into treatment. We have a state-funded entity in Gateway Behavioral Services, private treatment centers like St. Simons by the Sea and various other centers with resources to help.
We will need more, though, if we are going to truly make a difference and curb addiction before it gets out of hand. We will need the help of the community in understanding addiction. The problem is not just one for the courts to handle.
While it is clear law enforcement is doing its part by arresting drug dealers, we as a community must work together to combat drug abuse from the non-criminal side. If you know someone who is struggling, make an effort to find them some help.
If we all take that approach, we might just make a difference.