Buchanan County officials reported 18 overdose-related deaths through August, part of a surge in drug-related emergencies that started in the spring. Now comes word of five more deaths in October that could prove to be the result of overdose, depending on the autopsy results.
This is not a new trend, but it has accelerated. Not counting accidental poisonings, Buchanan County saw 130 drug-induced deaths from 2009 to 2019. That’s more than alcohol-related deaths, shootings, homicides and motor vehicle accidents during that same time period.
The numbers are alarming, but it’s important to look beyond the statistics and comprehend the human wreckage and the community impact.
It’s easy to view the struggles of a drug addict as a personal issue, the inevitable result of bad choices. This verdict proves overly harsh from a humane standpoint. An individual who is struggling deserves our encouragement and support, even if the addiction leads to troublesome behavior.
But from a broader sense, when you factor in the wider impact of addiction on families and neighborhoods, it becomes obvious that intervention is in everyone’s best interest.
Think of a drug addict as a pebble and our community as the pond. Every ripple brings a tragedy of broken families, lost employment opportunities, crime and homelessness. These are issues that cannot be addressed in a meaningful way without doing something about drug addiction.
This is why it’s good news for our community to see a new detox recovery center opening in St. Joseph. DeNovo Recovery, started by a man who knows from experience what it takes to battle back from addiction, joins the ranks of other agencies, centers and facilities that have taken a lead in trying to curtail this growing problem in St. Joseph.
Many of these centers could draw a line directly to a personal encounter with addiction and its human impact.
“We tried to look at it not from a competition standpoint, but rather how can we all come together and help people out,” the founder of DeNovo told News-Press NOW.
Many of these providers would deserve a slice of a settlement in the litigation targeting opioid manufacturers and marketers, but that day seems a little farther off following a ruling that overturned a $465 million judgement against Johnson & Johnson in Oklahoma. For now, all these agencies can do is put in the daily work to keep up with a problem that continues to expand.
Maybe the day will come when St. Joseph has too many services for those individuals who are trying to battle back from drug addiction.
Sadly, we’re not there yet. Not even close. We ignore the pebble at our own peril.