Submitted by Lopez Island Prevention Coalition
As a community, we need to come together and deal with the drug problem on Lopez. Please attend the town hall meeting at 7 p.m., March 29, at Lopez Center.
It is easy to think illegal drugs aren’t your problem if you nor anyone in your family has never struggled with addiction. You can pat yourself on the back, and tell yourself your community doesn’t really have any problems, at least ones you need to worry about. After all, you can go about your life without any problems or worries, since the problems brought on by drug addiction or the abuse of alcohol have never come into your life.
But the reality is while it might not affect you directly, it does affect everything in your life, from the environment where your food is grown to the cost of your health care. The abuse of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs costs our country more than $740 billion annually in costs relating to crime, lost work, productivity and health care. This dollar amount is equivalent to 17 percent of the U.S. federal budget. The opioid epidemic is costing the United States more than $500 billion per year, and killing tens of thousands of Americans every year. This tragic backlash of the over-prescription of pain medications is not just something happening over in “America,” it’s happening on Lopez.
When parent and adults misuse drugs and alcohol or look the other way as a family member does so, it is nearly always the children who suffer. Crime and violence, abuse and neglect are downstream effects that land on children in families and communities where people are not willing to take a stand against what is going on.
While addiction might not be preventable, nine out of 10 people with substance addiction first began using before they even turned 18.
Because a child’s brain is still developing, addiction is powerful on youth and teens. Nicotine, for instance, starts the addiction process in an adolescent brain within the first 10 cigarettes. This means we could be doing work at a young age to prevent it before it starts.
Consider also what happens when people toss old or unwanted medications in the trash or flush them down the toilet. The chemicals in the medications eventually find their way into the environment, and back through our water and soil. In a nationwide study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1999 found low levels of pharmaceuticals, and in 80 percent of the rivers and streams sampled. Have you wondered how this might affect the applesauce you love? The salmon you savored at your favorite restaurant? The organic yogurt you eat each morning?
Showing up to the upcoming town hall meeting at 7 p.m., March 29, at the Community Center with the desire to become better informed of what you can do to help reduce drugs in this community will — as the old adage goes — make you part of the solution.