Editorial: Couldn’t be here

The deadly heroin epidemic cutting across Connecticut and the nation is not limited to poor people, people who are down and out or people of any particular gender, age, race, or cultural or socioeconomic group.

The epidemic is worse than ever because it cuts across every demographic group, affecting everyone, and the numbers are astronomical and growing.

The purity of heroin being brought in from Mexico and other South American countries is higher — and the price is lower — than ever before.

The fact that the use of heroin and opioids designed to relieve pain appears to be at an all-time high, causing lawmakers and police to take action, is not enough.

Every man, woman and child needs to know the odds, accept the fact that they are not immune and take action.

Here in Wilton we have that opportunity. The Wilton Youth Council will present a panel discussion — It Starts in Your Medicine Cabine: Protecting Our Families from the Opioid/Heroin Epidemic — on Wednesday, April 20, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Little Theater at Wilton High School. A resource fair will take place half an hour before and after the presentation.

As the title of the program says, drug abuse is not restricted to street drugs. Any one of us can be prescribed painkillers following back surgery, a tooth extraction, injury, or other health condition and become hooked on them. Or, people use part of the prescription and leave the rest in the medicine cabinet, where it is available to their children.

A similar program was presented a few months ago in New Canaan where the response was overwhelming. At that event, Clinical Director of Silver Hill Hospital’s Outpatient Addiction Program, Dr. John Douglas, said of persons aged 12 or above who used pain relievers recreationally, “55% report they received the drug for free from a friend or a relative.” Dr. Douglas will speak at the event in Wilton, along with School Resource Officer Rich Ross, Wilton Public Schools outreach counselor Kristin Dineen, addiction counselor Vince Benevento, and two local adults in recovery.

In addition to learning what opioids are and how people become addicted, those attending will learn how to recognize warning symptoms. Information on treatment options will be available and people may ask written questions anonymously.

While this event is taking place in a school and the youth council is rightly concerned about our young people, make no mistake. Addiction is not only a young person’s affliction. It affects people of all ages.

No one wants to believe that a family member is using drugs or admit that they are abusing drugs themselves. But everyone can’t be right that it is not their child, that it couldn’t be me.