Sometimes it is hard to admit you have a problem.
The same could be said for our community and prescription drug abuse. It is not that we don't know such problems exist in the world, but on the Kenai Peninsula?
Unfortunately, that is the reality as local law enforcement has told us prescription abuse has been on the rise over the last three years. The issue is now one of the area's most prevalent social ills and contributes to crime as much -- if not more -- than other forms of drugs.
Gone are the days when someone said "drugs" and you knew exactly what they were talking about -- a handful of substances, the effects and dangers of which were well known and documented.
Now, the lines have blurred.
Abuse can be hidden in plain sight. It might go undetected by parents who don't realize their medicine cabinets to be as dangerous as drug dealers. Most of these drugs have a legal purpose, are readily accessible and easy to hide, which makes them all the more dangerous.
But we must not despair.
Years ago pills entered the American dialogue as things like Ecstasy became the designer drug of choice. Methamphetamine was also added to the list of new drugs affecting and corrupting our youth.
But just as we made strides against those drugs, we will and must make strides against the rising tide of prescription drug abuse. The key, as always, is education.
Our youth must know that just because it comes from the medicine chest doesn't make it safer than other drugs made in illicit labs or sold on street corners. Abuse of prescription drugs isn't something to take lightly. The consequences are the same -- addiction, criminal tendencies and sometimes death.
Each day approximately 2,500 teens across America use prescription drugs to get high for the first time, according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America.
It simply isn't worth it.
Parents need to do their part by properly disposing of their old medications through the number of ways available. The biggest mistake is thinking there isn't a chance your kids or their friends could get involved in it.
The effort of local law enforcement is also worth noting -- as the number of cases goes up so does the workload. We're glad to see local police recognizing the issue and helping sponsor events that combat it, such as the recent National Prescription Drug Take-Back Program.
In short: Although is it often easier to look the other way, prescription drug abuse is a reality and we must engage in the necessary steps to help combat it, following the lead of local law enforcement. Education, information and awareness are the tools we have, let's use them.