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Disease of addiction infects us all

Daily readers of The Alpena News have learned over the past four days how the disease of drug addiction infects us all.

For individuals, addiction acts like a “dirty merry-go-round,” as one sheriff put it. The addiction consumes every aspect of their lives until it starts taking things away — family, jobs, freedom — and addicts end up in jail. Those losses add stresses, which can make the addict crave drugs even more, and they go ’round again.

For the community, addiction can increase crime as addicts turn there to get their fix or as gang-connected traffickers travel to our community to sell. It raises health care costs as overdose victims show up in ER rooms. It costs us in lost productivity.

We all have a stake, whether or not we’ve ever tried an illicit drug, ourselves.

And, as reported on today’s front page, there are solutions.

First, as individuals, we have to stop the stigma associated with addicts. We have to recognize they’re fighting a disease and we have to love them and show them support. Sometimes, just knowing someone values you can help you fight addiction one more day.

Secondly, as a community, we have to get behind proven programs that work, such as jail diversion programs, support groups, therapies, and what recovery specialists say we need most: recovery houses, also called sober houses, where recovering addicts can live away from the people who feed their habit until they’re strong enough to resist it on their own.

Northeast Michigan’s been hit hard by drugs, but we can hit back harder.

It’ll just take all of us to do so.

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