MOUNT ORAB, Ohio — To convey to the community the gravity of the drug epidemic in the area, Brown County decided to recruit the help of someone who has researched it firsthand.
A presentation was held at the Venue on Lake Grant in Mount Orab to discuss the looming issue of the drug epidemic that is plaguing Brown County and the nation at large. The event was sponsored by the Brown County Educational Service Center, the Brown County Prosecutor’s Office and Drug Task Force and by the Brown County Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
Former journalist for the Los Angeles Times and author of the book Dreamland Sam Quinones was invited to the event to speak about his book and the grip narcotics like black tar heroin and doctor-prescribed opiates have in the area, an area he designates as the origin for the drug epidemic. Quinones said areas like Columbus, Cincinnati and the general tri-state area were ‘ground zero’ for the epidemic, which eventually spread to the rest of the nation.
“I believe it is unprecedented for a few reasons,” he said, referring to the drug epidemic. “One, it’s in so many parts of the country, it’s not just certain areas, it’s all over the country. (Second,) of course is the deadliness — more people are dying every year from this now than died in the entire course of the Vietnam War.”
Quinones described the nature of the book, how it pinpoints the origins of this epidemic in the country today, and how drugs and their market evolved over the past several decades. He said by the time he began his research around 2010 into what would become Dreamland, narcotics had spread into wealthy neighborhoods across America.
“This was when I began to reassess the story I thought I was writing. I thought I was writing a big story about drug trafficking —the drug market” Quinones said. “I began to realize, no, this is a much bigger story than that, this is a story about who we are — a country; a story about what we had become, because this story had spread to places and people who were getting addicted who had benefited most on economic expansions.”
Once Quinones concluded, he mentioned how, while there was no single solution to fight against addiction and drugs in the community, a return to community cooperation is a step in the right direction. He also said no quick fix or short term goal will ever be enough to truly accomplish curing this epidemic, as rarely it ever does.
Susie McFarland, Pre-K supervisor for the Brown County ESC and who contacted Quinones for him to make an appearance for the event, believes the current drug problem can be remedied. Much like Quinones, she believes nothing short of an act of community involvement will solve this issue.
“We have to come together,” she said. “We can’t work in silos anymore. It’s not an education problem, it’s not a prosecutor’s problem, it’s not a sheriff’s problem, it’s not a doctor’s problem — it’s a community problem and we have to come together and join forces to try to get a grip on that.”