Education Vital In Local Drug Fight

The worst thing you can do if you suspect a loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol is to ignore the problem and hope it will go away. A story we published last week emphasizes the need for families and loved ones to educate themselves on addiction and to learn what the user is going through before attempting an intervention.

That’s the advice of Dr. Ryan Wakim, a psychiatrist at the Recovery-based Outpatient Opioid Treatment Services in Wheeling. ROOTS’ patients include those addicted to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain pills.

“Educate yourself about what they’re suffering with – not what they’re doing to you. It’s easy to look at someone with addiction and blame them for things,” Wakim said.

U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld organized a task force last year to deal with drug addiction, and education was at the top of the group’s list, along with a need for more treatment centers. Ihlenfeld said more adults need to learn about addiction themselves to know what to look for in others – maybe even their own children.

Part of the education process can be for families or loved ones to attend addiction meetings, such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous. However, as Wakim pointed out, if you believe the user is a danger to themselves or others, seek professional help immediately.

As we’ve been reporting, the Ohio Valley faced an unprecedented wave of drug-related arrests and overdose deaths in 2014 after first prescription pills and then heroin became easily accessible locally – even for teenagers. As one recovering addict told us last month, “They cracked down on alcohol for teenagers, but there’s no ID to buy painkillers. You don’t need an ID to get in grandma’s medicine cabinet.”

Until more local residents take the initiative in the addiction fight, the problem will grow. If that happens, we will continue to read about families being torn apart by drug addiction. It’s imperative that 2015 be the year drug addiction is taken seriously by everyone in the Ohio Valley.