Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

May 25, 2013

Education key to addressing substance abuse

CUMBERLAND — I am writing in response to Allegany County’s response to the growing overdose problem in the area (“County health board preparing opioid overdose prevention plan,” May 15 Times-News, Page 1A).

There is a much greater issue at hand that not too many people seem to be willing to deal with and that is how do we educate our kids, and the community at large, regarding these illicit substances.

The recent article written regarding my life (“College For Convicts?” April 7 Times-News, Page 1A) was only the tip of the iceberg. If I had been educated regarding illicit and dangerous drugs, my story may have been different. Alcoholism was common in some family members and their miseries helped me not to drink.

Even though I practically grew up in Baltimore City, I knew little to nothing regarding drugs. And since I grew up in a protected environment of sorts, it was never mentioned.

There also seems to be an ambivalence in Allegany County to openly discuss that drug use is more commonplace than many think. And it is time to address these issues with the younger generation so that we may have a chance to prevent future substance abuse.

I applaud Allegany County Health Department for taking the steps to address overdosing but will challenge this community to find ways to educate our youth about drug prevention, and not just on the surface.

Monies need to be allocated for prevention programs so that we stand a chance to fight the growing culture of addicts.

I should not be surprised that not many educational programs exist in this area especially since the closing of the Allegany House, a halfway house, went virtually under the radar of this community and not an eyebrow was raised.

We, myself included, want to live in a safe community, but this does not happen by pretending there is no problem.

I will even volunteer my own time to help educate the community about my life’s experiences with addiction and the subsequent effort to change my life.

This will get worse before it gets better. The time to act is now before we bury any more of our family and friends, or before we watch them leaving on the prison van for an extended stay in a correctional facility.

Please take action before the problem gets worse. The future of many youth is being thrown away in pipes, syringes and straws. Will you be part of the solution or part of the continued denial of the growing problem?

Brian Shea Sr.

Cumberland

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