Heroin’s scary grip on our area must be fought

It’s easy to get.

It’s cheap.

It feels good.

On the scale of temptation, that’s a hard-to-beat trifecta.

And so it is that heroin has become the drug of choice in the nation and, in ever-increasing numbers, in our community.

But we left some stuff out of the heroin portfolio. It’s also deadly.

Short of death, it destroys lives.

And it turns families upside down.

But at $8 a bag to an adventurous teenager feeling all the invincibility that youth brings, heroin is very attractive.

And the pathways to this drug are everywhere. Maybe there’s no family structure that establishes a sense of right and wrong, what to embrace and what to stay away from. Then there are peers sitting in the classroom or in the neighboring desk at the workplace using the drug and appearing in control.

There are prescription drugs being prescribed for everything. Lots of people become hopelessly addicted to them and find they can get the same high from heroin at a lower cost.

Then there is marijuana.

You know, the drug that is now legal in some states. It turns out marijuana is not so harmless. The professionals who deal with the heroin scourge say that most users don’t start with heroin.

They start with “gateway” drugs, either prescriptions or marijuana.

Excessive use of alcohol, especially among youths, also is a precursor to heroin use.

All these factors amount to “a perfect storm” described by speakers at the first meeting of a community task force that met for the first time a week ago to begin the tough fight to reverse the dangerous heroin trend gripping our area and state.

The meeting organized by Lycoming County President Judge Nancy L. Butts last week was full of sobering reality.

The biggest takeaway that separates heroin from other drugs is that it does not discriminate. It is attractive and used by all age groups, regardless of economic status, social upbringing or race.

Court officials, including a county judge who lost a brother to heroin, described what the heroin aftermath looks like in a courtroom. Medical officials, social service professionals and clergy described how people get themselves into the strangling clutches of heroin.

How do we stop this?

It won’t be easy.

We are fighting a well-organized business that feeds on temptation and has a cheap product to sell to weakened souls. But we know sitting on our hands feeling sorry for ourselves will only make the situation worse.

Start by telling your kids that if they want their lives to amount to nothing, they can count on heroin and the gateway drugs that lead to it to get them there.

Repeat that mantra.

Every day.

In our neighborhoods and at our schools, watch for signs of usage and confront it, then try to find the source.

In our community, find organizations fighting the problem and offer a helping hand.

We salute the efforts of Judge Butts to get the ball rolling.

Ignoring heroin won’t make it go away.

We’ve got to fight for the lives that are in danger every second of every day in our community.