EDITORIAL: The silent drug crisis continues


Funeral services were held last month for a talented young man from the Somerset Hills who died at age 23.

Nothing was shared on our obituary page. There was no front page story. Like many others from our area who have died in recent months at a way-too-young age, his death was not listed anywhere in the newspaper. Many learned of this tragic passing only through private conversation or social media.

We once had an opportunity to witness his talent. Sadly, it was to perform during a memorial service for a good friend who had died of an overdose. We were moved that evening by his passionate performance and are deeply saddened to have learned of his passing.


The loss of this young man, and so many others in recent months, is virtually beyond comprehension. Our hearts go out to all the family and friends who have had to suffer through these tragic, horrific circumstances.

While we cannot pretend to know the pain felt by the families, we are nonetheless left to ask, why? And can nothing more be done to prevent similar tragedies in the future?

While it’s not always visible to the general public, the drug crisis continues in the Somerset Hills, as in nearly every community throughout the nation. From the suburbs to the cities of America, thousands of young men and women are battling the demons of addiction. Their lives have become a daily hell, and despite a growing recognition of the problem, it doesn’t appear to be improving nearly fast enough.

The stories of addicts’ repeated recovery attempts and relapses are often frighteningly similar. They live on a horrific treadmill of unending misery. Some are able to recover from this dreadful illness and move on with their lives. But far too many others can never get off until they are added to the growing list of fatalities.

Locally, one group of parents is trying to make a real difference. Comprised mostly of mothers who have in some way been touched by this ongoing nightmare, Community In Crisis (CIC), a local non-profit group, is looking to break the mold and find new ways to end the suffering.

CIC reports that there have been six local deaths in a recent two-week period. The number is staggering and impossible to ignore.

In an article published in this newspaper last week, the group shared some of its latest plans for dealing with the crisis. Numerous events have been scheduled, some public, others just for town leaders, some for students, still others for the victims themselves.


CIC is reaching out to students, to parents, to celebrity speakers and athletes, to law enforcement officers, to mayors, to school officials and governmental leaders in an all-out effort to craft effective solutions. Some may work, some may fall short, but they are at least trying “to move the needle’’ in this battle and develop local solutions.

On many other fronts, state and national leaders and organizations also working to raise awareness about the crisis.

Today, Thursday, Oct. 6, has been designated “Knock Out Opiate Abuse Day’’ in New Jersey. Organized by the Partnership for Drug Free NJ, the initiative is an opportunity to further educate residents about the pills to heroin epidemic that is sweeping across the nation.

Other initiatives are under way to reach physicians and other medical professionals who prescribe medications and pain killers that can lead to addiction. These efforts deserve full support. As we’ve seen too often, addiction can happen to just about anyone. It is a disease, not a choice.

Heightened awareness is an important step in working to prevent it from spreading any further.