Opinion

Opinion | Let's be real about local drug use

There are a lot of ways that locals regularly remind out-of-towners that the Valley is not the big city. But there is one thing we have in common with the big towns: Drugs. Valley communities see a lot of the same stuff they’ve got: Alcohol, pills, meth, and now heroin.

If there’s one area where I want to see Valley teens lag behind the state average, it’s drug use. Always an eye-opener, the latest biannual Healthy Youth Survey results show that local youth are insulated from drugs for much of their childhood, but then catch up fast to the state average as teens.

Alcohol remains the drug of choice, and teens follow typical trends for drinking. But less than 20 percent of Valley high school seniors who answered the survey said they felt adults in their neighborhood believed that using alcohol, tobacco and marijuana were wrong. Eye-opening, right? The small-town Valley as permissive place? Who knew?

In truth, no community, the Valley included, is ever safe from these challenges. The survey results show parents a side to youth life in the Valley that’s always been there. The best thing to do with this information is exactly what the Snoqualmie Valley Community Network and local school districts do—use it to plan ways to keep students off drugs.

There are already a lot of good things being done to keep young people on a positive path. Local churches, clubs, organizations like the YMCA, Si View Metro Parks, or the Snoqualmie Tribe’s rehab center are finding ways to prevent abuse or save others. A crop of awards just went out to people like Josh Denison, a senior at Cedarcrest High School, who received the 2011 Youth Legacy Award from the Network for efforts fighting substance abuse and bullying. There are plenty of others shining a light and leading the way. Let’s get to know them, then get involved.

Ideally, we should all live drug-free. We can get there by understanding the issues and being honest with ourselves and our families about what’s going on. Talk about drugs, be real about the costs, and don’t be afraid to let your friends and family know where you stand.

Understanding impacts

Local drug trends are changing in other ways. Deputies at North Bend’s King County Sheriff’s Substation have been tracking an upswing in heroin use in the Valley, part of a regional surge in heroin use.

At the Valley Record, myself and staff writer Carol Ladwig are working on a two-part series exploring what heroin, meth and other drugs do to our Valley. We want to know how people become addicted, what the costs are to themselves, their families, and Valley infrastructure. Most importantly, we want to know how people can free themselves from addiction.

You can help, by sharing your experiences with us. Do you know someone who has had problems with gateway drugs or harder substances? Are you aware of or concerned about drug use by youths or adults in the community? Has your own life, or your family’s been affected?

Please send your tips, stories or comments, in any form you feel comfortable with, to editor@valleyrecord.com. Your viewpoints help make a community conversation about drugs more relevant and powerful. That, in turn, could help others break a destructive cycle or make a choice to stay free of drugs altogether.

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