Shock, but certainly no awe
There has only been a few times in my 13 years here that a photo on the front page of this paper has drawn more criticism than the one we published on it last Thursday.
In most cases I have always felt sorrow at what we did because it was inadvertent or unintentional.
But I have no sorrow or excuses for what we did last week.
That's because even though I was called everything on the phone from despicable to much worse, it served the purpose. That purpose? To shock the community into the fact that drug addiction problem in this area is a major problem.
For years we have been writing articles about drug problems. For years we have been reporting on what officials in the middle of the problem (health care, peace officers, educators and judges) have said about the situation we have.
It seems that anything we did had little affect on those that feel they are disconnected from the problem. The "it won't happen to me," "my kids would never do that," "they chose that route," kind of thinking has gone on and on in this community.
I hate to be preachy about it, but we need to wake up. We need to realize even if no one in your family is hooked on drugs, it is still a big problem for you and everyone around you.
Eastern Utah is a great place to live, there is no doubt in my mind about that. But it also has some major problems we need to fix, and one of the base problems is drugs and their harmful use.
We need to face the fact that many employers can't find enough applicants who can pass their drug screening tests to hire them to fill job openings.
We need to face the fact that well over 80 percent of the crime that takes place in our area is due to drugs, because people do things to support their habits.
We need to face the fact that our kids go to school with kids on drugs.
We need to face the fact that we pay for drug use in one way or another. Our jail is always full and much of it is connected to drug use.
Finally we need to face the fact that many of the obituaries you see in the paper, especially amongst young people is the result of drugs, either from long term effects or overdoses. And how many of those deaths are the result of suicide because of drug use?
This is everyone's problem and we need to do something about it. And something isn't just more law enforcement.
Something is community action. Something is local treatment facilities for those that need it. Something is counseling that anyone can get regardless of their ability to pay.
Because in the end, if we don't pay for it that way, we will pay for it in the end and it is a lot more costly.
The photo of the addict that was shooting themselves up was not pretty. It wasn't meant to be.
You should be shocked because it goes on dozens if not hundreds of times a day in our part of Utah.
Only we as a community can stop this scourge that infects our friends, our coworkers and our families.
This all lies just under the surface of what is seemingly nice rural communities. I had a friend from Las Vegas a number of years ago move to rural Utah so he could get his kids away from drugs. He moved back to Nevada because he found it was worse in the little town he moved to than in Henderson.
Drugs change people and they change communities. Have we been changed so much that we don't care about our fellow man whether it seems he brought it on himself or not?
In the next few weeks there will be no more shocking photos, but I ask you to read the series of stories we will be running about drugs in our community. This series will run basically until Christmas.
See if you are not a lot more shocked by what you find out there than you ever were by the photo on Thursday paper.
Maybe by learning the truth, and understanding that it affects all of us, we can go somewhere better than where we are right now.