LAWRENCE COUNTY - ( April 8, 2022) - In the 80's Nancy Regean launched a program " Says Just Say No to Drugs" which encouraged children to reject experimenting with drugs, simplying by saying " No".
The movement continued for more than a decade.
In 1985, a great many people seen drug abuse as a number one problem at 2 to 6 percent and jumped to 64 percent in 1989.
In 1983, the D.A.R.E. program which replaced the Officer Friendly program in a lot of schools. Students learn about the dangers of substance abuse and are required to take a pledge not stay away from drugs.
The DARE program has been implemented in 75 percent of the public schools.
In a 1994 study funded by the Department of Justice revealed that partaking in D.A.R.E. led only to a short term reductions in use of tobacco, but no impact on marijuana or alcohol use.
In 2001, the Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. David Satcher put D.A.R.E. in the catagorey of " ineffective primary prevention programs,"
The " War on Drugs" program was a success or failure depending on whom you ask.
A study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human services in 1989 revealed that 14.9 Million used illicit drugs, compared to 1979, there were over 25 Million users.
Back then the critics stated that the program put to much emphasis on deterrence tactics than on drug treatment and substance abuse programs.
The other criticism is that the program led to mass incarceration for non-violent crimes. In 2017, more than 2.3 Million people are currently being held in the criminal justice system.
The top concern of Lawrence County Sheriff's candidates in 2014 cited the fight against drugs was the number one issue they hear about from voters.
In 2016, the Lawrence County Commissioners objected to the Lawrence County Health Departments plan to provide clean needles to drug users as a means of reducing the spread of infectious disease. In 2016, Lawrence County's Hepatitis infection rate was the 15 highest among the Indiana counties.
This prompted the State of Emergency which the infection rate climbed to 112 percent between 2010 - 2014. However, the commissioners at the time which included Bill Spreen, David Flinn and Chris May took issue with giving cookers out at the tax payers expense.
In 2017, Lawrence County Commissioners ended the needle exchange program.
However, this was without controversy with Former Lawrence County Superior Court I Judge Michael Robbins stating " After 60 years of the war on drugs, if you think you can arrest, prosecute, and have guys like me send them to prison to work our way out of this epidemic, then we are bigger fools than I think we are,"
In October 2017, Lawrence County Commissioners voted to end the needle exchange program with Indiana Recovery. The Lawrence County Commissioners at the time Rodney Fish and Dustin Gabhart did not second a motion to continue the needle exchange program.
Now fast forward into 2022, and we are still faced with drug use, and its detriment to the community
The debate continues, on how we should deal with the issue. Both City of Bedford City Council and Oolitic Town Council decided that treatment facilities would not be best located in their neighborhoods.
The criminal justice system uses about $10 Million a year, in Lawrence County to help deal with the criminal side of the drug issue.
Narcan boxes have been installed in two locations in the county, and many have died since this epidemic has started.
Sadly, we are not even close to providing solutions that bring an end to this far perplexing issue that has no sign of slowing down.
They are always two sides to a story, and two sides of determining how to deal with this problem.