“Speak Out” is an expression of opinion from the Editorial Board of WBTV, and is presented by General Manager, Scott Dempsey.
Here's a sobering fact: More than 12,000 Americans have already died this year due to a heroin overdose. Perhaps one of those 12,000 was a friend of yours, a son, a daughter, a grandchild.
The reality is heroin isn't being shot up in dark, seedy nighttime alleys.
It's being abused in the middle of the day and after school, in places like SouthPark and Birkdale.
It's exploding in white suburbia and in small towns such as Newton and Kannapolis.
Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in this country. It's estimated more than 50,000 lethal drug overdoses have already occurred this year and opioid addiction is driving the epidemic. Often times the death can be traced back to an addition to prescription painkillers which have become harder to obtain and therefore, more expensive.
The nagging question is how best to tackle the problem?
While we're not advocating for "government-sponsored addiction", we do applaud the Gaston County Police Department, who recently unveiled a plan that focuses less on a quick arrest and more on addiction treatment.
If anything was learned from the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 90s, which decimated the African-American community, its that we can't just sit by and let it run its course.
If you or someone you know needs help in dealing with substance abuse, please call one of these numbers.
In Charlotte and Communities to the east, call 1-800-939-5911
In Gaston County and all communities west of Charlotte, call 1-888-235-4673