North Lake Tahoe Bonanza editorial: Drug availability comes as no real surprise
EDITOR’S NOTE: Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza editorial staff.
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — In the month of December, we published a pair of in-depth stories regarding drug availability, use and addiction in Incline Village-Crystal Bay.
After more than three months of research, public information requests and interviews with residents, officials and business-owners (some we identified, while others were kept anonymous due to the articles’ sensitive nature), we printed more than 5,000 words, several statistics — and, frankly, some eye-opening images.
Our strategy in doing this was not to sensationalize things or add shock value. Rather, it was to draw attention to an issue about which we feel our community needs to know: Residents and visitors here use narcotics, psychedelics, opiates, prescription drugs and other dangerous drugs, and as the anecdotes and statistics show, it’s not too tough to figure out how to obtain them.
In the days after the first story published on Dec. 11, we received plenty of feedback by way of emails, phone calls and conversations with community members.
Some were critical of our decision to run an image of someone loading a syringe with heroin on the front page of a community newspaper. Others were unhappy with the information we published because they felt as if they were being outed. Still others were complimentary, with some saying it’s about time the issue was exposed, and others thanking us for letting people know help is only a phone call or website visit away.
Airing a small town’s dirty laundry is not easy, but we at the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza feel it is our duty to do so from time to time, so long as it’s done in an objective and professional manner, which we feel occurred in this case.
With that said, this information should not come as a blindsiding surprise to our residents. Incline’s K-12 Principal, Leslie Hermann, said it best in the Dec. 25 story that focused on youth: “The bigger thing, and I hate to say it, but I think there’s a drug problem at every high school in the United States.”
She’s absolutely right, and it’s something Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam alluded to as well in the Dec. 11 story. Simply put, we aren’t alone when it comes to problems with drug use and addiction.
So now that it’s out there, the big question we want to ask residents is this: What will we do? What will we do with this information that suggests people in our backyard, those random and at-times familiar faces we see in Raley’s while grocery shopping, who we go skiing with at Diamond Peak, may have access to, or perhaps even are addicted to, hard drugs?
Will we turn a blind eye and go about our normal day as if nothing is amiss, only to gasp at a headline or obituary down the road of another drug-related death? Or will we use this information and let people know about the phone numbers and websites of groups like Nar-Anon and Narcotics Anonymous?
Like cancer, odds are we all know someone who struggles with addiction. The choice is now ours to do something about it.
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