World issues and their impact here at home
A different approach this week – As a boy and young man growing up in Southern Illinois, I recall being warned of two potential dangers. They were beer and cigarettes.
While I was relatively naive, I knew boys in school who used both, even though our coach told them not to. Both were readily available at stores throughout town (even though beer required you be 18).
As I read my newspapers each week, I am shocked and confused with the predominance of articles about “opioids.”
In truth I had to look the term up to know what they are. It turns out it refers to a number of pain medicines, such as legal prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone and a host of non-medical chemical compounds that also affect people in similar ways, but generally the non-medical and illegal prescriptions or distribution of opioids are relieving “pain” that does not exist, just giving people a dangerous “high” that can be fatal.
Medical facilities currently report that 44 Americans die every day from opioids. Many are young people who have taken prescriptions issued to grandparents, or other family members, who require the medication. The number 44 is too high for me, but it is increasing dramatically every year.
Of course, drug stores should take additional steps to prevent people, especially young people from accessing these dangerous drugs. However, schools should be expanding both their educational efforts and enforcement procedures to minimize consumption.
I realize that my generation did not do a great job of keeping alcohol out of the hands of teenagers, but opioids like fentanyl seem far more dangerous.
As parents, we have a special obligation to assure that our young people are fully educated about the dangers represented by opioids and that law enforcement agencies are trained and equipped to prevent their distribution and use.
(John Reppert is an Anna native and former editor of The Gazette-Democrat. He served in the U.S. Army, rising from the rank of private to brigadier general. He earned a PhD in international relations and taught at the University of Maryland. He also served as the executive director of research at Harvard University’s Belfer Center. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)