Opioid epidemic posing serious threats to community health, safety

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        The current opioid epidemic is having a profound effect on the health of many Americans and in ways that most people don’t even initially consider.
        It has also had a huge impact on crime prevention.
        Of course, there is the detrimental effect on those who have become addicted. In addition to the obvious problems the opioids cause on their bodies, they can have lifelong effects on the brain. Years ago, there was a saying about drug users’ “brains being fried” for life.
        Most people who are not familiar with addicts and addiction don’t know the problems opioids have on the rest of the body, not the least of which can be severe constipation.           The digestive system becomes totally “out of whack.”
        Addiction can also have an adverse effect on an addict’s loved ones. Not only do they have issues associated with worry about the addict, but many mothers and fathers and even grandparents of addicts are now saddled with raising the addicted person’s children. Ask any social worker who deals with family matters, and they will tell you how the number of such cases has skyrocketed in recent years.
        Drug addiction has also had a profound effect on our legal system. Just about any judge will tell you they now deal with a great majority of crimes and criminals that are before the bench due to drug addiction.
        The issue has also added special challenges to crime prevention. Law enforcement personnel now deal with a great increase in crime that is rooted in addiction to drugs. There has been a big increase in the number of thefts, burglaries, and home invasions that can be attributed to an addiction to opioids and other drugs.
        Home invasions and burglaries, particularly daytime burglaries, have increased multifold in recent years as addicts become more brazen in their attempts to get ahold of just about anything they can turn into a quick buck to get their next high.
        Home invasions can be especially dangerous, as a person at home at the time of the event can be injured – or worse.
        These daytime burglaries and home invasions sometimes result in the theft of guns that will most likely end up in the hands of dangerous criminals.
        People are divided on their opinions about how to deal with addicts. There are those who think they should be sent directly to treatment, and those who think they should go to jail. Even jail may be where they are forced to get that treatment.
        There is no simple solution to the problem, but as a society, we need to address this issue before it becomes even worse.
        This article is a public service from the Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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