A reader wasn’t happy with the opinion of two people who deal with Westmoreland County’s drug epidemic every day.
Detective Tony Marcocci handles the criminal side of the crisis. Tim Phillips, director of the county’s Drug Overdose Task Force, works with the social and treatment aspect.
In a Tribune-Review editorial board meeting, they did a lot of explaining. There are so many things to be addressed. More drugs could be seized. More people could get treatment. More money could be thrown at the problem. More people could get involved. But if there was one thing they could do, the two men agreed on what it would be.
We need more recovery housing — a middle ground for people who have come out of treatment to re-learn how to deal with daily life as someone who doesn’t take drugs.
And that’s where a reader bristled.
“Here’s a good idea,” he commented. “Put them right beside where they live.”
The “not in my backyard” position is nothing new. People have been against sharing space with everything from landfills to power stations to sewage plants to bars. It’s the kind of thing everyone might acknowledge is out there, or that they even use, but they want it to be someplace else. Sure, the sewage needs to be treated but not next door.
It does make sense. No one wants to invite a problem. But here’s the thing: the problem is already here.
Marcocci and Phillips outlined a growing drug problem that is bigger than the opioids that are getting all the headlines.
In addition to heroin, fentanyl and prescription drugs, cocaine is making a comeback. Methamphetamines are still made here, but higher quality meth is also coming from Mexico. Despite medical marijuana legalization, police are seizing huge quantities of weed with a higher THC content then what was passed at a Grateful Dead concert.
The people dealing with addiction aren’t someplace else. They are our kids and our parents. Our co-workers and our neighbors. They are strangers, and they are people we know and love.
It’s easy to say “not here,” but then where? And if there isn’t recovery housing, how do people recover? And if they don’t recover, they still live in our neighborhoods. We haven’t kept addiction away. We invited it in and gave it a key.
Addiction — and recovery — isn’t something we can ignore.