Time to embrace reality: illicit opioids region’s biggest threat

By Rodney Creech - Preble County Commissioner

PREBLE COUNTY — Recently, I was able to take part in a sweep of our Eaton community that resulted in the arrest of drug dealers that are peddling poison on our streets. Every single one of us are impacted by the reality of the current opioid epidemic. Either we are related or know someone addicted or we see victims of the secondary crimes associated.

At one point, we could pinpoint prescription drugs as the culprit in this crisis. Corporate greed combined with some rogue and reckless doctors allowed for prescription pills to flow way too fast and opened many to addiction.

Fast forward to now, industry and government regulations have largely controlled the prescription pill issue. Yet, according to the CDC, opioid overdose deaths were 30 percent higher in 2017 than they were in 2016. How can that be?

The facts are in. Currently, most people overdosing are not using prescription pills manufactured in America. Increasingly, illicit and illegal manufactured drugs are killing Americans at a much more rapid pace.

Cartels in Mexico and drug manufactures in China are smart. They have moved in and are sending illicit drugs like fentanyl into our country. Because of our weak southern border and relaxed customs, we are in real danger here at home.

We cannot underestimate Fentanyl and its ability to kill. Fentanyl is so lethal that even a dose the size of a grain of sand can kill anyone who comes into contact with it. Recently, a drug bust in Columbus by Federal Investigators seized enough fentanyl to kill nearly 5 million people. That is enough of this powerful drug to wipe out half of Ohio’s population.

I am not sure about you, but I am increasingly concerned about what that exactly means. To me, that means that drug runners and users in our community are potentially carrying a drug that could potentially kill hundreds of people under the right circumstance. We need to do more to stop this.

We sometimes tend to ignore society’s biggest problems, hoping they will go away. While we seem to winning the prescription drug abuse fight, this is not going away. Unless we do more to stop the flow of this stuff into our country, we are going to see more of our first responders and law enforcement officials hurt or killed by illicit drugs like fentanyl. That is wholly unacceptable.

I am encouraging our leaders, from President Trump on down to local government, to be tough on crime and not dance around this issue. Things like protecting the southern US border should not be about separating families but protecting ours. America has always been a generous nation, and we still can be, without burying our heads in the sand about the drugs that are flowing in and killing our neighbors.

Let’s give law enforcement the tools they need to fight this ever-changing threat; it would be to our own detriment to ignore it.

By Rodney Creech

Preble County Commissioner