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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Media and Reports of Rx Drug Abuse

During the surge of media coverage about the health epidemic of prescription drug abuse, I feel it is important to remember the tremendous positive response from those committed to extinguishing the fires of addiction. Some of the recent exposure has made people think nothing good is happening in Scioto County. Conversely, I believe more "good" is occurring today than at any other time in recent memory. It's time for some uplifting news!

It is true -- the media has given much more attention to the sad state of affairs than to the positive gains that have been made over the last two years and to the growing, committed groups of citizens who have stepped forward to help fight the problem. I feel qualified to assure anyone who might listen that great progress is being made on all fronts. I also feel sure that this progress will continue and that Scioto County will experience much brighter days in the near future.

My sincere hope is that everyone here will take an active role in bettering the community. This is a tall order and perhaps more of a distant vision than an immediate objective. The public needs to understand that most citizens do not take an active role until they have a personal stake in the movement.

This lack of involvement is partly human nature and partly procrastination. Such inaction has been a prime factor in the establishment of such a stronghold of  addiction and distribution. Some truly didn't know the problem was so bad while others chose to follow the old "they're not talking about my people" mentality.

It's much too late to worry about the past and dwell on "what used to be." These fruitless actions will not  solve the problems of today. And, of course, they will do nothing to build new confidence and new enthusiasm for working toward improvement. The town, the county, the entire region needs to refuse the bonds of those who use negativity to enslave the populace of Appalachia in addiction. They feed the pessimism with words like depressed and uneducated and lazy. Dealers and bad doctors depend upon states of misery and hardship to do their evil work.

I must be honest and confess I have lost patience with many who expect someone from outside or some agency of government to roll into Scioto County and cleanse the area. Many outside forces have had great positive effects on the county, but Scioto is ultimately responsible for its own fate. I'm sure many residents are getting tired of hearing about the ills of abuse in deference to talk about community development or employment. But, in reality, I think the extent of the rx drug problem is directly related to the success of all betterment. I believe the media should focus on intervention and hope and give equal attention to the positive strides that have been made.

The individual makes the tiny ripples that turn into the waves of alteration that produce the best results. I have seen a handful (by my estimation) of people have a marked influence because of their sheer determination to succeed. They believe in what they are doing, and they have faith that "doing the right thing" will benefit all.

Some of these individuals are old warriors who have already experienced many victories and losses, and others are new combatants, eager to enter the fight, armed with fresh, innovative ideas. None of them expect to see thousands of supporters in the streets of Portsmouth demanding overnight change. Instead, they understand the necessity of taking personal action and of contributing to a modest team effort.

After a score of meetings and events, each person knows the players well. The movement itself creates a solid bond among the participants. Surely some good-natured competition drives the efforts of individual members, but I think any healthy, active congregation depends upon this type of activity. The key to success is understanding that no member is bigger than the group. Sorry for the cliche about teamwork, but I know no other way to express the cohesiveness of the movement.

I have never been so proud of my county as today. People here are finding out that standing up and showing grit and determination can produce wonderful results. Amid cries of "a whole town addicted" I know the truth of the life-saving surgery being conducted. Some might use the melodramatic phrase "in the nick of time" to describe the actions of the movement, and let them do so. To me, a win is a win, and I know the team is winning.

The rest of the nation is now realizing what Scioto County knew years ago. That realization is that criminals and greedy profiteers will infest an area that sleeps through bad times. Part of their plan is to suck the lifeblood of every beloved feature of the community -- including the minds, the hearts, and the souls of all good people.

If I were a person with sufficient desire to join the effort against rx abuse, I would expect to do the following things:

1. Find good, factual information and educate yourself and your loved ones about the problem.

2. Join the Facebook group of Fix the Scioto County Problem of Drug Abuse, Misuse, and Overdose at so you can follow developments, find schedules of events, and access instant information.

3. Take inventory of your own skills and determine how best you can become active and help fight the problem of drug abuse.

4. Attend meetings that keep you informed about current events such as the Scioto Rx Drug Task Force Action Team meeting.

5. Begin an active role as a committed member of the Scioto Rx Drug Task Force Action Team. 

6. Talk with your friends about what they can do to help.

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