While the drug abuse problem in Warren County is serious, it still pales in comparison to some notorious metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, Baltimore and some boroughs of New York City.
The problem with the problem is that there is no easy solution.
It is clear that after decades of stepped up law enforcement, trillions of dollars spent on interdiction of supplies, prosecution of dealers and chasing users, we haven't come very far in reducing the problem.
We also haven't done a very good job at ameliorating the myriad triggers that cause some to turn to the escape of drugs. And, how do you deal with the fact that not everyone who suffers through personal tragedy, disappointment and hopelessness turns to a prescription painkiller or a line of cocaine?
Because of the complexity of the causes and effects of drug abuse, there are those, including one presidential candidate, who would simply throw up their hands and say: Legalize them, all of them. If people want to kill themselves, wish them well on their journey. Legalization would drive down the price and reduce the attendant crime.
While we have already argued in this space against that proposal because the toll of drug abuse is so high on society as a whole, we do believe that prosecution should not be the ultimate weapon in the war on drugs, nor do we believe that we will ever completely rid our society of drug abuse.
What good is incarceration if it isn't followed by long-term treatment? What law enforcement calls recidivism, drug rehabilitation specialists call relapse, and they point out that the chances of relapse in the first year are as high as 85 percent.
In our series on the symptoms of the problem in Warren County, we don't draw any conclusions, but present the testimony of those in law enforcement, drug counseling, drug treatment and drug education.
If you draw anything from this series, it should be that Warren County's problem is a microcosm of a national dilemma. It is one of countless end stops in an international trade that ranks with the largest segments of finance and industry. Unfortunately, this commerce deals in human suffering, and the victims aren't just limited to the users themselves.