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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Back To the Hills

Back To the Hills

Unfortunately, the 128th Ohio General Assembly in nearing time for summer recess. Pills mills still occupy Scioto County and the legislature does not appear to be close to passing a bill to regulate the clinics' poisonous distribution. So, instead of asking for a deluge of letters to legislators, we are keeping close tabs of new developments and reporting any and every scrap of news fit to print on the "Fix the Scioto County Problem of Drug Abuse" site. I, like most of the Scioto County Rx Action Team, feel special consideration should be given now to this health epidemic.

However, short of a miracle declaration of immediate pill mill suspension until the law is changed, we will endure another hot summer of overdoses and addictions in the killing fields of Southern Ohio. With great regret, I ask you to be patient on legislation and allow the slow wheels of State government to roll sluggishly towards justice, but with renewed hope, I want to deliver a message I find much clearer as the muddy waters of Columbus, Ohio, political wheelings and dealings begin to clear: Scioto County is Appalachian akin to Kentucky and West Virginia and separated by most political minds from the rest of Ohio. 

Usually, blind eyes and deaf ears turn only in our direction when responding to a tragedy that has beset us. Coal mine accidents, floods, and prison breaks come to mind as examples of calamities that draw not only state but also national attention. Without the physical and vocal support of a significant population of our inhabitants, the rest of the state is content to treat us most of the time as an embarrassing appendage, better snipped and reattached to
our Appalachian neighbors across the Ohio River.

We have fought the battle of recognition and equality since the turn of the 20th Century when a slow decline began as industry left, the skilled labor force changed, and the population migrated to more urban areas. For generations, Scioto County has held onto bleak promises and suffered sad disappointments. Our own children expect failure in their Scioto hometowns and usually reap their dismal expectations unless they move away to seek employment.

The reality of our future in Scioto County rests upon our ability to strengthen bonds, build strong walls around our cultural ideals, and become a safe, working community Appalachian community. We should embrace our noble heritage, our love of the land, and our deeply independent roots as those living in many areas of Ohio "just don't get it."

First, we must take back our community. It is too late to worry who, what, when, or how this ugliness and loss began. It doesn't matter as long as people keep dying in our homes and on our streets. When I say "take it back," I mean to work actively and create many working plans to fight our evils as one, huge, undeniable human force. For lack of a better comparison, we must become the festering locust thorn in our northern brother's or sister's soft and fleshy backside. When they sit on our problem to cover it over or remove it from public view, we push in ever deeper to remind the recipient of our serious, pointed intentions.

When involved in a summer of civil disobedience, people become our only weapon against certain death and destruction. Whether we march, sit, display, pray, or write, we must enter into a mission that does not accept failure and does not accept mediocrity.

For months now, we have informed the public in our area, in our state, and in our nation that bad people intend to ravage the rest of our population because of greed. Some already knew it; some began to learn about it; and some, quite frankly, didn't care. Doctors, public health officials, law enforcement officials, judges, lawyers, and counselors among others delivered the facts. In just the last several months journalists from all over Ohio and all over the country have written about the serious nature of our addiction problems.

We, my friends, are basically on our own with our own problems. I'm not saying that others outside of Appalachia are not trying to help. I am saying that the urgency for action has never been greater. To quote Governor Strickland, "Addictive prescription drugs are a 'ticking time bomb' in our homes...If a foreign country were to attack the United States and 72 people each day were killed, we would be at war. But because it’s happening in small communities it isn’t getting the attention that it deserves.”

Strickland continues, "We’re talking about a number of deaths that are carried out by pill mills with rogue physicians that are killing our children and we’re going to stop it...In my judgment these are accessories to murder, if not murderers themselves." Murder? Bombs? Slaughter of children? Maybe we should live in Kabul, Kandahar, or Baghdad.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown wrote a letter to President Obama about the growing problem of prescription drug abuse. “This is not only a matter of crime, it is both a public health and fiscal issue,” wrote Brown in his letter to President Obama.  “In Southern Ohio, there is a disturbing pattern of drug diversion wherein individuals obtain controlled substances using their Medicaid cards and then sell these substances.”

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray agreed that state legislation is needed requiring licensing of pain clinics.
Cordray called the prescription drug abuse and death rate in some Ohio counties "shocking."

What is "shocking" is the lack of sufficient state and federal funds to stop the killing now.

So, as we wait on appropriate legislation, I ask you to do this -- join with the small minority who have chosen to make this fight their mission and begin a mass demonstration of our wills and a flood of our bodies that will save lives and drive a northbound thorn of discontent up one of the drug pipelines, Route 23, and into the attention areas of others.

In addition, please join available groups and make new groups as active extensions to fight the drug epidemic that plagues us. Your membership without action is very difficult to swallow for those committed. In other words, strengthen our wall and prevent one more hideous overdose death. Every person can contribute a talent to the cause. Please, above all, ask God to lead our best efforts as devoted Christian soldiers.You, are, in essence, are becoming activist rebels of Appalachia fighting drug addiction in a very important summer of our discontent.

Frank Thompson
June 1, 2010
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