Our Opinion: Remarks fuel stereotyping on addiction


Maine Governor Paul LePage told reporters he won't talk to reporters anymore, but before buttoning his lip he said revealing things about addiction and stereotypes.

The media's crime was apparently reporting what the Republican governor had to say this week on the addiction issue and revealing the contents of an obscene, threatening voice mail message he left for a Democratic state representative. In the former case, the governor attributed heroin addiction in his state to an invasion of blacks and Hispanics from Lawrence and Lowell, Massachusetts, among other communities.

As we know in the Berkshires, heroin addiction is not limited to any one ethnic, demographic or socio-economic group. Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera wisely advised the Maine governor to search for "solutions, not scapegoats" for the opioid problem, adding slyly that he hasn't blamed Maine's weak gun laws for the influx of guns in his community (Eagle, State House News Service, August 31.)

Whatever the source of drugs like heroin and fentanyl, dealers go where there is a market. It's a law enforcement issue on the dealer level, and Berkshire authorities have been successful in arresting and jailing pushers. Beyond that, as Mayor Rivera said, the issue in Maine and elsewhere is helping people in "desperate need of detox beds, counseling and treatment."

Progress has been made in this regard in Massachusetts, although a lack of state funding has hamstrung communities and agencies trying to confront the heroin epidemic. Stereotyping, stigmatizing and scapegoating on the heroin issue are counterproductive, and ignorant remarks from Mr. LePage and those like him fuel all three.


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