Addicts hurt more than just themselves

We applaud the local, state and federal law enforcement authorities for a successful roundup of 36 suspected drug dealers Wednesday in Franklin County. That’s not to say we presume that these defendants are guilty – that will be determined in court – but we are glad that police are doing their job to actively investigate dangerous activity and, when they have sufficient evidence, make arrests in as safe a manner as possible.

While many are not aware of the severity of the drug problem in the North Country, this latest bust is an eye-opener. Cocaine is old news up here; prescription drugs are a new wave but well known; but the fact that police also found significant quantities of heroin, crack cocaine and materials for making methamphetamine is scary.

Scarier still is to see in the paper the mugshots and names of young men and women they knew as little kids, now accused of spreading the disease of hard drugs further throughout the community.

With these suspects off the street, we hope to see fewer incidents related to drugs, such as break-ins, robberies and domestic abuse – but we wouldn’t bet on it. They might go to jail or get probation, but there will be a lasting effect on their families, friends, boyfriends and girlfriends. Addiction is a major cause of poverty, and it can result in loss of work, divorce, alienation from family, incarceration, homelessness or even the worst-case scenario, death.

Addicts and dealers leave marks that can scar their children, who might be doomed to the same fate if they don’t have the support system needed to steer them in the right direction. The impact from addiction weakens families and society as well as the nation: financially, physically and psychologically.

We see the young, single parents going to the food pantry or into the social services office, living day-to-day with no job and no plan to better themselves. Most are healthy enough to work but as helplessly dependent as wild animals that have been fed and lost their ability to hunt.

It seems that by the time they are ready to ask for help, they are already in crisis mode and sinking fast, with little hope of changing their lifestyle. A stint in jail, food pantries, food stamps and welfare are short-term fixes. They’re necessary services to provide, but we need a better long-term solution.

As we see it, the only option in tackling many of these addictions is to start now with the very young and advise them to avoid the rut that addicts in their families are stuck in.

We know this kind of thing is already being done, and we appreciate those who do it through schools, churches, youth centers, etc. But based on the evidence of Wednesday’s drug bust, the current efforts aren’t enough.

More people in our communities need to work one-on-one with children and teach them, essentially, survival skills. Showing the next generation that we care about them will help give them hope, respect, work ethic and other values to help them avoid the dismal life others chose.

For those already struggling with addition, it is up to them to break from that lifestyle. Aid is available to them, as well as consequences to help give them the self-discipline they’ll need to straighten out. Enabling them will only make it worse.

But for the innocent children, they have no choice growing up in drug-ridden environments. It is up to all of us to help them make smart life choices if we want to see the next generation break the cycle.