Weather Forecast


Our View...Drug and alcohol addiction are everyone’s problem

It’s awfully easy to assume that drug addiction will always be someone else’s problem, but it could be yours in moments. All it takes is your child saying yes to a friend at a party, and your life could come crashing down around your ears.

That’s just one reason it’s important to learn more about the issues of drug and alcohol addiction, regardless of whether or not you realize how it has touched your life. It’s like one of our loyal readers said so aptly in an email last week: “No one wakes up in the morning as an adolescent kid and says: ‘Hey, I think I’m gonna be an addict and break the hearts of everyone I love.’”

A lot of people are struggling with drug (and/or alcohol) addiction. They are all ages, and come from all social classes, from the super rich to the very poor. They have families, parents, children, co-workers, friends and neighbors … and everyone is affected, even those who don’t know them personally.

This is the fifth week that the Pine Journal has featured stories about “The Drug Problem in Carlton County.”

We’ve talked to law enforcement and those in the legal system to get an overview of what drugs have been popular when. We talked to medical professionals about the effects of various drugs on the user as well as their unborn children. We looked at the collateral damage that drug abuse and addiction have on all of society, not only those who are addicted and their immediate families. We found out what steps someone can take when they’re ready to seek treatment and learned about the drug court program starting in July in Carlton County as well as the highly successful Tagwii treatment program on the Fond du Lac Reservation that was the first of its kind and should be a model for other programs, regardless of race.

Carlton County is not alone in our battle against the demons of drugs and alcohol addiction. Drugs are everywhere — in big cities, small towns and in the countryside.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could tell you what the answer is, how we can fix our problems with drugs and alcohol, with the wave of a wand? In five weeks, we’ve only scratched the surface. One thing is certain, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this issue.

Education helps. Learn what to look for, so you know when your loved ones are using. Tell your kids about drugs and how dangerous they are, and make sure they know the only way to NOT get addicted is to never take the drug in the first place. Find out what resources exist for people who are addicted and for their families, who also suffer.

That’s our goal at the Pine Journal, to shine a little light on drugs and addiction, in the hope that — in the same way that the effects of drug addiction ripple out into society — perhaps as people learn more about addiction and the drugs that are currently hurting people in Carlton County, things will get better.

We need to work together though, both to try to stop the illegal sale of drugs (can anyone say “Neighborhood Watch”?) and to help those who are addicted kick the habit and restart their journey to become self-actualized citizens, or whatever they dreamed about before they became addicted.

Although we’re taking a break with the weekly series, this week’s story won’t be the last one you’ll read about the drug problem in Carlton County. In the meantime, we’d like to hear from more readers, who have ideas and stories to share about the drug problem we’re facing as a society.

Here are some suggestions from two of those readers:

“I feel that we all need to be open minded enough to see that being an addict isn't necessarily a choice and is truly a medical disease — both psychologically and physiologically. It has environmental and genetic components that make it so difficult to treat. …”

“The sooner we — as a society — can divorce ourselves from the age-old moral stigma that continues to cling to addiction issues, the better off we’ll all be.”

Let’s continue this conversation. Together.

Jana Peterson