Asked six years ago, most of us would have said heroin — big city problem. Not here. Sure, addiction and substance abuse were issues we knew existed in the area but it was pills and alcohol and maybe a little pot. A problem, yes but not a particularly deadly one.
And then, a body was found along a country road in Maysville and we learned that the young man had been abandoned by his companions after he overdosed on heroin. And we knew heroin was here.
It only got worse from there — heroin and other opioids had arrived and there were about to have an impact we could never have imagined on the communities we call home.
Over the ensuing six years, heroin and opioid addiction and abuse have become a major factor in many segments of our communities.
Court systems find the vast majority of the cases they hear are drug-related.
Social workers and the foster care system are overwhelmed — there are not enough of either to cope with the number of children whose parents can no longer care for them.
Police officers and firefighters face an already dangerous job with more caution as simply touching some drugs they may find in their line of work can be deadly.
Doctors, medical care workers, healthcare facilities, schools, churches, social service agencies, charitable organizations, mental health agencies find their limited resources stretched beyond capacity.
And the list goes on.
Over the next few weeks, we will publish a series of stories — Communities in Crisis: The Opioid Epidemic Hits Home. We will tell the stories of those most impacted by drug addiction — those who have lost loved ones to the deadly drug, those who are recovering and those who deal with it every day in their line of work. At the end of the series, we will host a community forum where we will talk with those people, invite you, our readers to take part and hopefully offer some solutions.
As always, we welcome your input and ideas. Call us, send us an email, a fax or reach out to us on social media to let us know. We will be waiting to hear from you.