Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


Heroin in Small Town, USA

Ted Brennan
Emmitsburg Coalition to Prevent Drug Abuse

National Public Radio (NPR) recently conducted a week-long series on heroin in America from Wyoming to right here in Emmitsburg. The results of this series should send shivers down the spines of everyone who is concerned about our youth and our communities. Here in Emmitsburg, heroin is present in greater quantities than anyone could ever imagine, except for the young people who can find it any day at any time.

Heroin is very cheap and easy to get. Most of it comes from Colombia, through the Port of Baltimore and onto our streets. It is pure, powerful and deadly. Casual conversations with teenagers and young adults in town confirm that heroin is here and readily available. At $4 dollars a bag, it is cheaper than a six pack of beer and the seller does not ask for an ID. According to the NPR report, a Massachusetts survey found that 4% of school aged boys reported that they used heroin, that is 4 out of 100 boys surveyed. The average heroin user in the 1970s was a 28 year old urban dweller. Today, the average user is a white, middle class teenager who resides in suburban and rural communities, from just like Emmitsburg. In Boston, according again to NPR, the number of 18 and 19 year olds seeking emergency room treatment for heroin overdoses doubled from 2000 to 2002. In Emmitsburg there have been a number of overdoses reported, and at least one death as a result. While such incidents are not made public in Emmitsburg or in Frederick County, they should be. We spend our days dreaming about the ideal place in which we live, while a monster lurks among us. It is important that the public is provided with information related to drug activities in their communities, and it is the responsibility of our law enforcement agencies, the States Attorney's Office and the news media to ensure that the facts are publicly reported and published often. While doing this may be cumbersome, it is our right, as citizens, to be informed about this menace so that we can take appropriate action. Community action is powerful and can change the course of debate to address the important issues. Inaction on this issue will lead to countless injuries and death.

The Emmitsburg community must be ready to address the issues of drug use, addiction and treatment in our area. The Emmitsburg Coalition to Prevent Drug Abuse was founded to do just that. Everyone has a responsibility to fight the scourge of drug abuse in their families, their places of business and in our local, State and Federal Governments. The Coalition would allow these elements to work as one toward the larger goal of preventing drug abuse. It will provide a forum for ideas to be heard, a resource for anyone who wishes to assist and hopefully a powerful force aimed at prevention. But, we need the help of the community. While the police and the many related agencies are already working to fight drug abuse, they are grossly undermanned, underfunded and incapable of reaching deeply enough into our local communities to effect the kind of efforts, that we, as a community united can make. Right now Frederick County only has six narcotics officers working the county. That is simply not enough. We can and must do our part.

As we enter into the campaign season for local and national elections, we ask that each candidate make a pledge to ensure the cooperation of the government in our work. We ask that the media, law enforcement agencies, drug counseling agencies, government officials and the courts work together with us to ensure a comprehensive and workable strategy to take the drugs off our streets and out of our citizens. We can and must work to restore our communities to their historic splendor.

Read other articles by Ted Brennan

Read other news stories related to crime & drug abuse in Emmitsburg