Fixing heroin epidemic falls on all of us

5-70-40.

Those are the three raw numbers that stood out to us the most as reporter Maria Counts was putting together her three-part series on the rise of heroin’s popularity in our little community (the third installment in the series can be found on page 18).

Over the most recent five-month span available to us, there were 70 deaths directly caused by heroin in our state. The average age of the victims was a little more than 40 years old.

Chew on that for a second, if you will. What has long been dismissed by many as a “street drug” is now pervasive in Delaware, and the number of heroin-related arrests and deaths in our little slice of Sussex County is at a rate that is making the most experienced of our local law enforcement officials cringe. It is not a problem just for kids, as the age in the above statistic shows. It is not restricted to any economic bracket, as we have seen in area police reports.

Want to know why property crime has been so prevalent in our area? Heroin, and, before that, prescription pill abuse. Well, once the state locked down the availability of prescription pills, the addicts did not simply go away. They moved on. And they moved on to heroin.

So, what do we do now?

Local police are taking the problem seriously, and arrest numbers keep climbing. They are patrolling more to try to stem the rash of burglaries in the area, and trying to get out as much information as possible to the public. Basically, they are doing all they possibly can be expected to do, and more.

But that’s not solving the addiction problems, and as long as there are those with addictions, there will be drugs and crime. It’s fairly simple, even if the solutions aren’t.

We need more rehabilitation and educational facilities in the area. We need more drug counselors. We need more help. This is a problem that is ripping us apart, one family at a time, and if the State or federal governments can not, or will not, provide funding, then it is up to local governments, organizations and individuals to do so. This is our community, and it’s up to us to keep it safe.