To the editor of THE EAGLE:
The tragic descent into heroin addiction was chronicled from a family perspective in Kevin Cullen’s April 26 editorial page column, "Life of a heroin addict." Those of us who work in the recovery and law enforcement fields know this saga all too well. Once dependent, the addict will go to incomprehensible lengths to secure the next fix. Unabated, they are the "dead man walking" among us.
Equally devastating are the effects on family members, particularly children. One in four youth under 18 in America is exposed to family alcohol and/or drug dependence. These children suffer chronic emotional stress, and are likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders, have difficulty in school, and are at a much greater risk of becoming addicted themselves. This is a multi-generational, silent, American epidemic.
Fortunately, with support from concerned individuals including school staff, health professionals, clergy, counselors, healthy family members and friends, these children can heal from the negative effects of familial substance misuse and build healthy, successful lives.
It is imperative that as a community we continue rallying to combat addiction. Creating awareness (like Mr. Cullen’s article), expanding innovative, evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies in schools, jails, churches and nonprofits, increasing treatment options and accessibility, and supporting law enforcement commitment to intervention efforts while increasing public safety are all worthwhile.
Victor Frankl stated that substance abuse is a spiritual search for peace in a world of restless anxiety. Let us work together to develop lasting solutions, so that the countless individuals like Jonathan and loved ones like Jamie can continue the healing journey and find the contentment we all deserve.