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article imageOp-Ed: Viral photo needs to be seen — Heroin crisis in U.S. is serious

By Karen Graham     Sep 17, 2016 in Health
After an Ohio police department posted a picture on their Facebook page of two people passed out in a car, apparently having overdosed on heroin, while a four-year-old boy sits in the back seat, many people were angry at the police. They missed the point.
Social media has become the quickest way to get the news out to the masses, and while some of that news may be misrepresented, most of the time, such as in the case of the police report that included pictures, it is totally real and hits you in the gut.
WTVR-Richmond is reporting that CNN is saying the East Liverpool Police Department in Ohio, in posting the photos on their Facebook page, performed a public service: showing the real and very ugly face of the heroin crisis in the United States, and it isn't pretty.
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East Liverpool Police Department
With over 12,000 postings, people from around the world responded to the police department's posting of the pictures. Interestingly, many people were upset over the "public shaming" of the two people passed out in the car. But I would ask those people so concerned over public shaming what their reaction would have been if the couple had crashed into a brick wall and killed the child?
One woman was very angry, writing: "This is absolutely disgusting. It's disgusting that you're exploiting this family. That this child was left in the car while your officers failed to help him because they were too busy taking a photo. How it seems as though no one even checked on the unconscious adults in the front seat. That publicly shaming addicts is apparently okay."
This is the real face of heroin/opioid addiction
I have reported on the heroin epidemic in this country many times, and it hurts me and disgusts me when the reports keep coming in, not just from Ohio but my own state and states all across the country. That little boy in the backseat of the car is indeed the face of the heroin crisis in this country.
Add that one child to the thousands of children all across America that go through their lives every day, making excuses for mom or dad or their guardian because they are passed out at home on heroin.
The use of heroin has quadrupled in the U.S. since 2007. In 2014, 10,574 overdose deaths were related to heroin, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Addiction is a downward spiraling nightmare that affects the whole family, quite often tearing it apart and ultimately costing the taxpayer money that could have been used in a different manner. Before anyone gets upset, let me explain: Opioid and heroin addiction is a burden on this country.
While many people do have medical insurance, many addicts live on the streets or in a day-to-day type of existence you or I would never begin to comprehend. Our jails are full of addicts caught stealing to feed their habit, and while social programs are available, they are not ever enough.
And again, we are back to the children, quite often shuffled from guardian to guardian in court battles involving who will get custody. In the little four-year-old's case, his mother is a recovering crack addict and works as a stripper at a "gentlemen's club."
The woman in the picture is his grandmother, aged 50 years old. The driver, the woman's boyfriend is 47 years of age, according to the Daily Mail. Is this the "family" the police were shaming?
The big thing we should be worrying about is the life of this four-year-old boy. And we should be worrying about the prescription drug and heroin crisis this country is mired in. Maybe it's time that people are jolted out of their complacency because we really do need to wake up and see what's really happening.
Oh, just so you know: in the five days following the posting of that photo, the town saw seven more overdoses and one death from heroin.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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