Heroin use nation wide has reached alarming rates, destroying lives and ripping families apart. Law enforcement agencies are forced to use limited resources to fight the scourge.

Each user gets to heroin on their own personal journey. Some graduate from other opiates, some via peer pressure, others out of sheer desperation to tune out their lives and problems.

Few communities are free from the current heroin rage; Keizer has not remained untouched. Recently a raid in the Gubser neighborhood resulted in the arrest of three people and the removal of two small children. Many people were surprised by the suspects—a businessman, his wife, and a former beauty pageant winner. The young beauty queen got the lion’s share of the attention, yet this case illustrates that heroin users can be anywhere in any neighborhood.

There were four heroin overdose deaths in Keizer in 2012. Due to dilligent police work five men were charged with distribution of heroin that resulted in a young woman’s death.

Interstate 5 serves as a constant pipeline for illicit drugs into Oregon and Keizer. There is so much that comes into our community law enforcement can’t keep up with it. The public may wonder why the police don’t raid a house that has been identified as a drug supermarket. It takes many months to gather evidence, including identifying suppliers, before action can be taken. The goal is to arrest the suppliers and shut down the source of the drugs that create havoc. But shutting off the source is all but impossible.

America would not have a drug problem if there was not such a demand. There has been such a prescription drug explosion over the past few decades that it is easy to see how some people feel their answer to their mental or physical problems must be in a pill. With media filled with “ask your doctor…”advertisements is it any wonder that usage is up?

Everybody reacts to drugs in a different way. One person who is prescribed medicine for pain is fine with no lingering aftereffects; another person’s body may betray them and become addicted to the prescribed drug. When that drug is taken away, where should that person turn for relief? It’s a very short step from pain pills to something like heroin or other street-bought opiates.

One of the tragedies of easy access to illicit narcotics is its use by young people, even in high school. Some young people report that getting drugs is relatively easy; there is always someone standing ready to supply the demand. It is society’s collective duty to drastically reduce the demand. That starts in the home by assuring that prescription drugs are not accessible to the young in the home. Swiping and abusing a parent’s pain killer can be the first step on a slippery slope that ends in tragedy.

Though not every young person who tries heroin becomes an addict it is important they constantly hear the message that drugs are bad. Identify those in the community that kids look up to and recruit them for anti-drug messages.

Any neigborhood and school can claim themselves a drug-free zone  yet that declaration needs to be supported by action. Zero-tolerance when it comes to drugs is not too extreme. Our social compact demands that each of us do what is necessary to reduce drugs in our city, educate our children about the perils of drugs; say it like we mean it and say it often.

We all value and respect what our police department does to fight drugs in our city, but they cannot do this big job alone. We need to be their eyes and ears, because drugs don’t just happen in inner cities anymore—they’re in our quaint neighborhoods.

  —LAZ