McHenry County has a drug problem. The first step was recognizing it.
The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office did that by setting up a new heroin task force. It’s an attempt to combat the 122 drug overdose fatalities – 52 from heroin – in the county from 2009 to 2012.
Now we must come up with a solution. Heroin isn’t the only problem drug here, but it’s certainly a large one.
The task force, which Undersheriff Andrew Zinke described as a short-term group that will collaborate with the community and make recommendations on improving the county’s heroin enforcement strategies, is set to meet for the first time in April.
The task force will be composed of staff from the coroner’s and state’s attorney’s offices, Centegra Health System, the Regional Superintendent of Schools Office, and the county drug court.
While the move signifies recognition of the issue and is a step in the right direction, it is not a solution in and of itself.
That solution falls on the community. Because it’s not only a drug-abuser issue; it’s a community issue.
More people need to take a stand against drug abuse, fewer need to turn a blind eye when it happens in front of them.
Attempting to cut off the supply is one tactic. Eliminating the demand is the only truly effective one. That, however, is never easy.
It’s costing people that you know, your kids know or your friends know their lives.
One solution is education, real education, about the dangers and effect of the drug. Knowledge, real stories from real people, in this case can be powerful. So could an increased threat of punishment if caught.
“It is now the law enforcement [community’s] responsibility to make sure we are doing the best we can,” Zinke said.
Ultimately, that’s all that any of us can do.
It’s important to have a plan, execute it and halt the trend. Now that process begins.