To The Daily Sun,
We all have been affected by the surge in heroin related issues here in Laconia. Emotionally, socially, economically, it has affected us all. Losses of family and friends death or permanently disabled, real estate values really who wants to purchase a home next to a drug house, loss of enjoyment in our public parks because of needles left on the playground or on the beaches, businesses suffer because shoppers don't feel safe frequenting these establishments either because of who is hanging around outside, or needles and blood found in the restrooms.
We as a community turn our heads and some how think, if we ignore it it will go away. IT WON'T! We want to turn a blind eye, yet complain that our police aren't doing enough to stop it. Then we want the police to carry Narcan as well? That unfortunately does not fix the issues.
We all need to realize , that WE as a COMMUNITY need to be proactive. Most of us don't even know our neighbors either because we fear who they are or don't want to become involved, or have abandoned or foreclosed properties next door, of people who have given up, who feel that nothing can be done. Also associated with drugs comes robbery, domestic assaults, burglaries, aggravated assaults.
Heroin is frightening. Most of us can't imagine putting a needle in our arm, let alone get pleasure from it. But, these are our neighbors, these are someones child, mother, father, sister, brother. Heroin is not contained by socioeconomic borders.
Here in the lakes region there are no clinics to get help. There is no where to turn for them. No one WANTS a methadone clinic in their neighborhood. There are no rehab programs available. Most think the answer relies upon the police department and courts to lock them up. We as a community shun them, dismissing and laughing at it as "population control", but they could be our own children,mothers, or fathers.
THAT'S NOT THE ANSWER
The answer isn't easy. It will not be well received by many citizens.
The answer comes from US as a community. Building that word — community.
Becoming involved, not turning away. Speaking up, knowing our neighbors. Taking back the fear, through knowledge and sincerity. Not allowing people to go unnoticed, or forgotten.
Having city block parties — the Pumpkin Festival would be fantastic. The point is to become more involved, a safer community. I read a wonderful article about Rutland, Vermont; they took back their town and so can we.
They began by treating an addiction (not just heroin) as a DISEASE, not just a crime punishable by incarceration. If someone was discovered by law enforcement they were given two options from the court at their arraignment: #1. Immediately be entered into a treatment program, complete it, and there would be no further prosecution (very hard to get employment with a drug conviction), or #2. Incarceration.
They opened treatment programs.
They opened a methadone clinic because people go there to seek HELP.
They had block parties to know their neighbors.
They had neighborhood watch groups that were adamant about reclaiming the neighborhoods.
They convinced landlords to step up and not allow this to go on in their complexes.
Abandoned buildings were given to nonprofits for rehab to build better lives, through skills, training, and praise in volunteering when the treatment plan was completed for the ex addicts.
They took back their town.
No more fear.
People became kind.
People had worth again.
We can do that here too.
Operation H.E.L.P. (Heroin Engulfing Laconia's People) — "It takes a community to rebuild the city".
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