Last month’s string of heroin-related deaths has shifted needed focus toward the grave drug problems crippling people of our region. Although recent overdoses can be linked to a local distribution of fentanyl-laced heroin, the drug’s allure has embattled our nation for ages. Law enforcement’s resolve to investigate and incarcerate drug-related crimes has accomplished little in reducing the demand for heroin and prescription opiates. Possibility of jail time and fear of death are not enough deterrence to stop. Once a heroin addict, the prospect of achieving full rehabilitation is remote.
In Allegheny County last year alone, more than 260 people died from prescription opiate and heroin drug overdoses. Sadly, this statistic is only a small manifestation of the families devastated, crime intensified and lives wasted to drugs. What’s surprising is that unified public service campaigns denouncing drugs are lacking for our kids today. Today’s tech-savvy youth have access to a range of social media tools. And yet we fail to use these mediums to illustrate how heroin and prescription opiates ruin lives. If anything, more media coverage is given to the legalization of marijuana.
Ask anyone who grew up in the ’80s what a brain on drugs looks like, and he or she will recall an egg frying in a pan. What images are depicted for kids today? More media resources need to be dedicated to educating children about the dangers of heroin and prescription opiates. They are society’s best but most underutilized weapons in our fight to prevent kids from starting drugs.
WILLIAM P. MULLEN
County of Allegheny