Today’s Drug Epidemic Goes Far Beyond Celebrity Headlines | Commentary
Aren't all drug-related deaths tragic? If so, why do we as a community and a nation tend to ignore the 38,000 overdose deaths in the United State each year until it claims the life of someone with celebrity status? Whether it’s Philip Seymour Hoffman dying of a heroin overdose or Whitney Houston from cocaine abuse, is their life more important than the life of your friend, relative or neighbor who may have also succumbed to drugs?
Perhaps the media coverage of Hoffman’s recent passing is a good thing. We need to shine a spotlight on the drug epidemic that is sweeping through Western New York right now, paying no attention to the social status of the victims in its path.
Local media outlets in recent weeks have been telling stories of Western New Yorkers who have fallen victim to a deadly heroin mix. But these are not celebrities; they are our children, siblings, coworkers and loved ones. Sadly, addiction not only touches the person using the drug, but anyone else that is part of their life.
As a substance abuse counselor, I know many people who struggle with addiction every day, hoping they can continue the battle tomorrow. Unfortunately, I also know several people who have not been able to defeat those demons and are no longer with us.
If you know someone who is abusing drugs, step in and make a difference as it could save their life. Any of us can do that. Parents and grandparents, please clean out your medicine cabinet on a regular basis. Talk to your family members about drug use; this needs to be an ongoing conversation, not a one-time occurrence.
The good news is there is help for the individual addicted and anyone else involved in his or her life. As long as drugs are being abused, you will be able to find resources in your community offering assistance. And while these services continue to save lives every day, it’s not the type of news that typically generates headlines.
Monica Farrar is program director for The Resource Training Center, Amherst.