Harlan County Round-up: We Can Defeat the Drug Epidemic

Published 7:06 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2022

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A round-up of all things Harlan County…

A Cawood woman introduced herself to me at Huff Park the other day.

She wanted to know if the newspaper was going to report that a woman may have overdosed and died very recently in Cawood.

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I told her that while we haven’t as yet received any information about an overdose death, our policy, same as that of most newspapers, is not to report such deaths as news events.

There are exceptions to that rule — famous figures and/or overdose deaths in public places — but generally newspapers don’t report on such matters unless included in an aggregate story reporting such tragic events county or region wide.

To be honest, I’m not sure the reason why newspapers don’t report such things — they do with covid — but then again I’ve always been critical of the mainstream media that is out of touch with reality on most things.

Why don’t we declare war on the drug cartels and solve the problems at the southern border? Instead, the media remains focused on Europe or how one idiot slapped another idiot at some awards ceremony that no one watches anymore.

Anyone who has lived in Appalachia for the last 20-25 years knows the ground-game when it comes to the opioid epidemic. Lot of people have died and the drug problem runs rampant — it is a big story.

Let me be clear — I don’t blame law enforcement. They are doing the best they can in a system that is overwhelmed by the effects of the drug epidemic.

I’m sure we’ve all known people who are addicted to drugs, others who have died.

Lady I spoke with said the local authorities are trying to cover up these problems and that things have gotten worse during the past several years.

I think the authorities are doing the best they can, but the hard facts are that there has been and continues to be a drug problem in the hills, same as it is in the cities.

Also, I’ll be candid. Like a lot of folks, I think it is smart to put our best foot forward. That’s why I don’t load down the front page of the Harlan Enterprise with crime news. That’s not to say that we don’t put such news on the front from time to time, only that when we do, there must be a compelling reason to do so. Most times, these stories go on page 2 because publishing crime news on page 1 paints a somewhat distorted view of our community — that it’s all about meth heads.

Instead, this newspaper tries to publish news that shines a positive light on the community because good things are happening too.

However, let’s face it, our nation has a cancer that not everyone is willing to acknowledge because they blame the victim instead of the source.

Moreover, DC and even some Frankfort elites don’t give a crap about us, anyone for that matter in rural America. We’re a stereotype that’s OK to joke about — doesn’t matter if our people are dying and our way of life is under siege. And it’s not just us in the hills, but the folks in the inner cities too — we only matter around election time and even then our voices don’t count for much.

Sure, there are many lawsuits filed by state attorneys general that seek to take down big pharma, but the fact remains that our people are in danger not just from legal and illegal narcotics.

Some folks talk as if the problem is limited to certain parts of town or certain people. No. No. No. Reality dictates that these problems spill over into the community no matter what side of town you live on. People who need to feed their habit will steal and deal — a problem that compounds itself the longer it goes on such that it can become generational in nature, particularly when blended with poverty. Many of the people arrested have long rap sheets; familiar faces in the justice system.

As to the drug problem, our community should strongly condemn those folks who deal in poison — not just the local dealer but the corporate pharmaceutical companies who are allowed to legally peddle this scourge.

Moreover, we need to take responsibility for our actions. That’s not easy for some people because our inner demons can conjure up some persuasive arguments that seem reasonable until you hit rock bottom.

Appalachian folk — we are strong. I believe that if we look inward, come up with our own solutions, that we can defeat the drug epidemic.