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Editorial: Shedding light on drug abuse is best

Every area of the country has its problems, some more than others.

When it comes to drugs, such as opiates (think heroin and prescription drugs especially), the Courier has published articles over the years shedding light on the issue. I recall a string of overdoses and fatalities years ago that we told you about, one involving a former high school football standout who died.

Word of the dilemma comes in waves.

A recent incident that has turned the spotlight back on is the April 21 overdose and death of pop star Prince, who died in Minneapolis of a self-administered overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic opiate.

Plain and simple: every drug overdose is ugly. The best possible outcome is survival, the worst is death. The death of a superstar gets extra scrutiny, and if one person learns from it the result is justified.

Tragedies involving opioids, including heroin and prescriptions, deserve just as much attention. That is why reports of use, discarded needles, and efforts to stem the tide are important.

In the Prescott area and Yavapai County, actions by MATForce – at a minimum to educate and collect old or unused prescriptions – help a lot. Also, the Courier previously reported, area law enforcement agencies are considering having officers carry the drug naloxone to reverse suspected heroin overdoses, even though medical personnel already use it to save lives.

The outcomes are heroic – people are surviving, even avoiding, the critical moment of no return.

The devastating long-term effects of drug abuse, however, rarely end with a dose of naloxone. Addiction is a powerful force, against which even support-filled communities struggle with limited success. Sad but true.

Authorities are well aware that opioid abuse is a problem. In my book, fixing the complications at their roots is best. Imagine putting the recovery homes out of business. Efforts to combat drug overdose are twofold: services centered on addiction treatment aim to help addicts stop using, and law enforcement working to cut off supplies.

Despite those efforts, though, overdoses continue to plague most every region in the nation. The users also have to want to quit.

People around the globe are still mourning the loss of Prince. Perhaps news of his death – what he really died of – will raise awareness of opioid abuse in our own backyard.

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