Are folks around Harford County getting serious about the heroin abuse epidemic that has claimed many of our sons and daughters in recent years? We believe they are.
It was heartening to see the turnout last week for two showings of "Addicted," a locally written, produced and acted series of monologues about substance abuse: heroin, prescription drugs and alcohol, all three of which have taken their toll in the past on Harford County and many, many other places, particularly among young people to whom the play is directed.
Attendance at the showings at North Harford High School, sponsored by the county's Office of Drug Control Policy, totaled about 800, or 400 each night, according to the ODCP. Many who attended on the first night, Feb. 25, were families, parents and children.
Like addictive behavior itself, we've long believed that communities overcome adversity when their residents, regardless of age, background and income, acknowledge a problem that needs fixing.
A little more than a year ago, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, Harford Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler and Gov. Larry Hogan had much to say about the heroin problem, Glassman and Gahler in Harford and Hogan in Maryland. While they certainly weren't lone voices in the wilderness, we weren't sure then if a majority of our county's residents were getting the message.
Certainly the loved ones and friends of fatal overdose victims understood what was happening. Yet, even as many of our neighbors have experienced this pain, many more had not. Under such circumstances, it's natural to believe that if a tragedy hasn't happened to me or to someone I know, it's not mine.
In the intervening months, however, we've heard the voices and seen the faces of addiction loud and clear. Last fall's well-attended forums geared to educating middle schoolers and their parents about those dangers were certainly a sign of great awakening. Even so, the numbers of reported overdoses and deaths from the prior year were far too high and, as we noted in January, would require a redoubling of efforts – in education and prevention, in treatment programs and, where necessary, in law enforcement – to bring them down.
No overdose is necessary, no death from substance abuse ordained. But preventing both can be done, and Harford County as a community is showing it wants that to happen. Seeing a presentation like "Addicted" can certainly put the problem in perspective, and if you want additional understanding, please take advantage of such opportunities.
More showings of "Addicted" are planned Friday and Saturday, March 11 and 12 at Mt. Zion Church, 1643 E. Churchville Road in Bel Air, beginning at 7 p.m. both nights. Admission is free, and while the nature of the subject matter is such that parental discretion is advised, consider attending if you want to understand more about how to overcome our community-wide problem of substance abuse.