By: Oscar Camargo – Sept., 2015
The opiate crisis in the Valley has had a chilling effect on the whole community. The town of Andover alone has laid seven of its citizens to rest – several of them children. Elected leaders, school officials, and families seem paralyzed by a sense of uncertainty. For me, this situation is a haunting reminder of the hopelessness of addiction and the pain it causes to the addicted, their loved ones, and our community.
Last year, while running for state representative, I met a mother in North Andover while going door-to-door. I’ll never forget the paled look of despair in her eyes when she recounted her daughter’s descent into addiction. When her daughter decided to confront her addiction, she faced a needless obstacle: overstretched rehabilitation center with a waitlist.
A couple of months ago, a similar situation occurred to a mother in Andover. Her son was a heroin addict, but they were fortunate enough to find a rehab center that had room to take them in; however, the center later called back to inform them that their position was no longer secured. Not long after, her son was found dead from a heroin overdose and became another statistic.
Our elected leaders have tried to address this epidemic with varying degrees of outcomes. For example, Representative DiZoglio was able to secure funding for community outreach and research to address the crisis, while leaders like Representative Lyons approached the question through increases in criminal penalties for trafficking – a strategy that has been ineffectual in the past.
While stemming the flow of drugs into our communities and educating our children is critically important aspects to an effective counter drug policy, the most pressing concern must be focused on those currently struggling with addiction. They need solutions now before the opiate crisis forces us to bury another victim.
Oscar Camargo is a veteran and former candidate for state representative. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/oscar.camargo or Twitter at @followcamargo.