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Editorial: With heroin in area meth remains primary concern

Drug abuse problems exist here, as they do in every community in America. We are no exception.

With recent reports of heroin-related deaths and overdoses in the region it’s scary to think about another dangerous drug taking hold in our communities.

Although heroin hasn’t been showing up regularly in the Park Rapids area we know it’s all around us in Bemidji, Fargo, Detroit Lakes and reservations.

Methamphetamine continues to grab most of the attention here.

  Meth is particularly sickening and troubling as we see the effects in our communities. Meth absolutely destroys people and families. Sustained use leads to physical and mental deterioration, crime and serious domestic issues.

Meth is here and despite the efforts of law enforcement doesn’t seem to be leaving any time soon. It’s cheap, it’s available and it’s highly addictive. And it leads to crimes like theft, burglary, assault to feed the addiction.

Meth shows up regularly in crime and arrest reports. Meth walks through the emergency room doors regularly. This is not a glamorous drug and it does horribly destructive things to a person’s mind and body.

Meth abusers do not sleep for long periods of time. They lose their appetite. They lose large amounts of weight. They may appear unusually active, can seem nervous and anxious.

It’s described as a very strong stimulant. In taking the drug, whether it’s smoking, snorting or shooting directly into a vein, users feel a fast "rush" of euphoria followed by a long period of less intense euphoria. Meth’s reputation is users can never quite get that rush again, and that’s what they keep chasing.

Prolonged use can cause severe tooth decay, an irregular heartbeat, rapid heartbeat, mood disturbances, violent, aggressive, paranoid behavior, confusion and insomnia.

Meth makes people crazy.

Heavy users tend to experience hallucinations and delusions. Some users develop sores on their face or body when they have been picking at their skin, thinking that there are bugs crawling under their skin that they can’t see.

Absolutely nothing good comes with these drugs. It’s all bad and destroys lives.

We have law enforcement, various agencies and mental health professionals dealing with these issues. Users need to go to jail when they commit crimes. Dealers need to go to prison. Does incarceration work? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, but when users are incarcerated they are not using while in jail, at the very least during that period of time.

When they get out of jail long-term chemical dependency treatment opportunities need to be there. And yes, the users need to stick with the program or the problem won’t get better. So much easier said than done.

Education and prevention starts at home and at school. We need to get to our children early to hopefully keep them from putting this garbage into their systems. When that support system doesn’t exist at home we need to give our social services agencies and mental health professionals the tools and resources to effectively deal with drug users in our communities.

There are so many factors that go into drug abuse, and it is difficult to pinpoint causes and solutions but one thing for certain we can’t turn away and pretend there isn’t a problem. Even here, in our nice little community. Heroin, meth and all that these nasty drugs bring with them are around us. They may be lurking in the shadows, but they are here.