To The Daily Sun,
I am proud to call Laconia my home. This is the place I want to be and where many of the people I love and respect live. I am saddened by the horrific toll substance misuse and addiction is taking on our community and will take on future generations.
I am encouraged by the work being done by Stand Up Laconia to make improvements in our community toward creating a vibrant and healthy future for our city and citizens.
As an obstetrical registered nurse for many years I saw an ever-increasing number of infants going into withdrawal following birth due to their mother's issues with addiction. This is a problem that has impacts far beyond the immediate issue of treating the withdrawing infant. Fetal exposure to teratogens, in this case, drugs and alcohol, cause changes in brain structure and function that can impact the exposed individual's entire life. These changes can lead to learning deficits, emotional difficulties, and inability to think critically and to make good and reasonable decisions, among other issues.
The cost of prenatal substance exposure isn't just to the individual who did nothing to cause it and can do nothing to avoid it, or to the parent/s. The costs impact all of us. We pay with increased dollars going to special education, with increased health care costs, as well as the costs of law enforcement, incarceration, and mental health services.
Addiction is a brain disease and as such must be treated, not shamed, hidden, and scorned. Those that prey upon the individuals suffering this disease are the ones that should be shamed, scorned, and shunned.
Stand Up Laconia believes that we can, as a community, turn the tide of local substance misuse by coming together, collaborating with other individuals and groups, thinking and acting creatively to create a strong and vibrant society that benefits everyone. We are a committed group of individuals from varied backgrounds, interests and ages that are working toward making Laconia the city that every citizen is proud to say, "Laconia is my home."
If you believe that Laconia is a great place to live, is the place you call home, and is worth the effort to make even better, then please join us as we move forward. We meet at Memorial Middle School on the fourth Thursday of every month at 5:30 p.m.
For more information please see our website: http://www.standuplaconia.com/
Ruth R. O'Hara, RN
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