When I chaired the recent Safety Service Levy committee, we talked quite a bit about the issues that our police and fire departments face on a daily basis. The one issue that came up time and time again was the problems heroin is causing for our community. I know this is something many of us do not want to think about it, but the truth is heroin is here, just as it is present in other cities around us as well.
In the 1980s, I worked on an in-patient substance abuse program, and at the time, the drug we saw the most of was crack cocaine. I can remember working in the detox unit and observing firsthand the withdrawals and pain folks went through as they came off of the drug. Crack was easy to get and crack was cheap, very cheap.
Heroin is what crack was in the 1980s. It is cheap, usually about $10-$25 a hit, and it is very easy to get. An individual who has a “hardcore” heroin habit may pay $150-$200 per day in order to support their habit. The nature of heroin is in the addiction, because as an individual becomes more and more dependent on the drug, they build up a tolerance to it. So it will then take more and more heroin to get high. This eventually will lead to a very expensive habit, which includes the constant threat of overdosing. Because of the need to “chase the high,” heroin addicts will do just about anything to get a fix. In order to support their habit, heroin users will resort to theft, which is a reason there’s so much petty thief and criminal damage within our community. Many times the neighborhood robberies and car hijackings we see here in our community are done to provide a quick way to get money to support an addiction. I do want to make note here that there is not a “stereotype” heroin addict. One of our detectives told me that we have heroin users as young as 12 years old here in our community!
I am tired of looking at face after face on the news of hollowed-out eyes in the person pictured bringing me to the quick conclusion that the need for more heroin led this person to do this crime. Addiction brings desperation, and the truth is that we have a lot of desperate folks here in our community. Desperate folks who are addicted to heroin and will steal, cheat, and lie to get this drug.
In my work as the Chair of Citizens for a Better Piqua, one of the first issues we tackled this year was heroin. Now, I am not naive enough to think that we can quickly solve this problem, but I do believe that with education and awareness we can begin to say “NO” to heroin — telling folks that, “Heroin is not allowed here in Piqua!”
In order to build a great city, it must first be functional and safe. Citizens for a Better Piqua has been working to get the right folks together around the table to talk about the problem, to share how they are working to address it, and to discover ways they can work together. We did this in February at our monthly meeting. During that meeting, we had a roundtable discussion with folks from Salvation Army, Miami Recovery Council, and Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health. The discussion was enlightening and very informative. Our hope is to keep the right people at the table to work on this in the best way we can as a community. We also heard at another meeting this past spring from Karen Kelly, a mother who lost her son because of his heroin addiction. She spoke to us about a program she started called Project Recovery in Dayton and we discussed the advantages of having a similar program here in Piqua.
As I said before, I know this is something we don’t like to talk about and some of you may feel that I am airing some bad laundry here, but it is true. Heroin is here and it has and is causing a variety of issues in here in Piqua. This must be looked at, addressed, and not pushed under the carpet. We must keep the conversation going seeking ways to rid our community of this horrible drug that is ruining lives and families, taking up way too much of the precious time our fire and police personnel have, and shedding a negative light on our beautiful community!
The Rev. Kazy Blocher Hinds is pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Piqua. Reach her by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.