Viewpoint – April 2016

Recently I attended a press conference called by Wicomico County Executive, Bob Culver to address the drug epidemic that is running rampant, not only in our County but across America. On the panel were State’s Attorney, Matt Maciarello, Wicomico County Sheriff, Mike Lewis, City of Salisbury Police Chief, Barbara Duncan, City of Salisbury Mayor, Jake Day, Lori Brewster of the Wicomico County Health Department, and County Executive, Bob Culver.

Each panelist took their turn offering their professional vision of what we can do to help reduce, control, and hopefully at some point eradicate the opiate abuse locally that continues to have a draining effect on our City and County both economically and emotionally. Statistics were revealed that summed up our County as no exception to what’s happening drug-wise across the country.

The County has been aware of the drug issue and has been working feverishly for years towards controlling this epidemic, but like other areas, to no avail. Now Wicomico County is one of the first counties in the State of Maryland to create a county plan of action to fight the opiate abuse locally.

Not a single person is immune to this killer. Someone in your family has experienced or is using drugs in some fashion and that is affecting our City and County. Those addicted for the most part are not productive in the workforce-if at all. The emotional effect on families and friends is devastating.

As Sheriff Lewis stated, “ We can’t arrest our way out of this problem.” Education, Treatment Opportunities, and Increased Enforcement are necessary. Safe streets, safe schools, and a safe community are the foundation of any thriving society. Keeping the public safe is crucial to making our County the best place to live, work, and start a business.

The members of this panel, as well as other stakeholders in the community, are committed to fighting this growing epidemic to prevent more lives from being destroyed. We can NOT allow this drug issue threaten our prosperity and progress.

Those on the panel recognize the need to take action now with the support of our community. They recognize that when a drug addict calls the hotline for help or walks into a building offering a 12-step program to recovery, they can’t ask that person to wait a week and a half to “process” them into the system. That person is reaching out in pure desperation for help NOW. We may only have one shot at saving this person because when they call or come in to a recovery facility, they’re at their lowest level of life-feel helpless….low self-esteem….ashamed of what they’ve done to themselves and their families and/or friends. Their personal vulnerability is at its highest.

The stakes are high. This drug epidemic crosses ALL socio-economic boundaries. We as citizens have an obligation to support and cooperate with those leaders on this panel and the stakeholders in our business community to put forth our best effort to educate our children through targeted public awareness and community engagement. To expand treatment opportunities investing in programs that break the cycle of addiction once it begins. And support local law enforcement to our fullest extent.

The drug epidemic is not just “my” problem or just “your” problem…it’s our problem and we need to support one another in building our future for ourselves, as well as our families in our City and County.

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