Citizens must demand solutions to heroin epidemic

April 24, 2017

Delaware State Police say last week, emergency responders treated seven people for opioid overdoses during one 24-hour period.

At least two people died.

While most people think reports of "bad" heroin would scare opioid users for at least a day, just the opposite is true.

When deadly heroin is reported, addicts do not avoid it. They seek it out.

For years, the Cape Gazette has reported on heroin and opioid deaths, which have risen sharply in the last decade.

We've reported on babies born dependent on drugs and babies sent home to suffer at the hands of drug-addicted parents.

We've also reported on rising rates of crime plaguing neighborhoods. This week, a popular business closed its Long Neck location after more than a dozen break-ins within three years. Now emergency responders and citizens are administering naloxone; it brings overdose victims found in time back from the brink of death. Once revived, however, nothing prevents addicts from going straight back to using.

Two years ago, the Cape Gazette called for attacking the heroin problem with a new sense of urgency.

Meetings were held and task forces have reported. Yet more babies have been born drug-exposed, and people continue to overdose and die.

As the epidemic mounts, no one at the federal, state or local level has offered a serious plan to combat this epidemic. This has to change.

This epidemic not only devastates victim families; it also leads, right here in Sussex County, to home invasions and thefts – not to mention money laundering, racketeering and murder. This has to change.

This epidemic was brought to us by drug companies selling pain relief without properly warning of its dangers. Why not tax the producers of opioids and use the money to fund safe houses where addicts – often men in their most productive years – can live and do productive work long enough to truly recover?

Opioid addiction should be the No. 1 concern of all of us – from doctors, hospitals and drug companies to law enforcement and legislators. So far, the epidemic is winning.

This has to change.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, associate publisher.

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