Troy's Take: Reversing The Violent And Virulent Vortex In Falmouth
By: TROY CLARKSON, February 18, 2014
I try each day to focus on the solutions. I am most certainly a “glass half full” kind of guy. This approach to living each day pays great dividends in my work and interpersonal relationships, and enables me to look at the world through the lens of possibilities, not problems.
Anthony J. D’Angelo, author of “Chicken Soup for the College Soul,” has a similar viewpoint. “Focus 90 percent of your time on solutions and only 10 percent of your time on problems,” he noted to millions of our nation’s youth, espousing a philosophy of active optimism.
We’ve got a problem that needs the 90 percent. I’m struggling with optimism and solutions on this one.
Tuesday’s paper reported a sharp increase in break-ins in Falmouth, an increase of more than 30 percent from last year. At the same time, reports of a sharp spike in heroin overdoses are being widely reported throughout the Eastern United States. These two seemingly unrelated snippets of bad news are actually inextricably linked as part of the violent and virulent vortex that is opiate abuse in our society—and in our town. The drugs are widely available, they are lethal, and they are doing their sinister and deadly job. The problem is getting worse. People are dying—right here in our community.
So, what’s the solution?
This is one that requires a network of solutions like no other. This is a public health crisis, a political conundrum, a financial challenge, and a community calamity. The solution needs to be just as all-encompassing. As the solution-based problem-solver that I try to be, here are some suggestions:
Our public health officials—our local doctors and nurses—must be educated that those suffering from the disease of addiction and in the throes of the self-destructive behavior that is one of its particularly horrible symptoms are not second-class citizens. I was told a firsthand account of a person who was admitted to Falmouth Hospital near death from an overdose. He was allowed to sleep it off, then told to leave the hospital by the ER physician because the bed was needed for sick people. No referral to treatment was made. No follow-up, just a not-so-gentle shove out the door. That needs to stop. Addiction is a disease, according to the American Medical Association. People are dying, according to Chapman Cole & Gleason. Our primary caregivers need to see the connection and engage in this battle for survival.
Our community can soak in all of the education it can about the impact of addiction within its borders—and on this peninsula. Recovering Falmouthite and neophyte film maker Sam Tarplin is to be commended for having the courage to tell his story and the untold story of dozens of our neighbors who have suffered silently —some suffering literally to death—at the hands of this monster. The educational and public information efforts of people like Sam need to be supported and repeated. Let’s fill our airwaves and TVs, let’s bombard YouTube and Vimeo, let’s post prolifically on Facebook and Twitter. Information is power; Sam’s untold story needs to be Falmouth’s rallying cry for action.
Our public safety officials, who are already valiantly fighting on the front lines of this war for our future, can step up their approach even more. Boston mayor Marty Walsh has recently called for Narcan, an opiate blocker antidote that the Mass Department of Public Health has noted has stopped more than 2,000 overdoses since 2007, to be supplied in police cruisers. That courage and vision is to be commended. It is time for that important initiative in Falmouth.
Our local government—both elected and appointed officials—can fully engage in this battle and have their voices heard. In the early ’90s when a spike in cancer rates caused alarm, the town spoke with a united and powerful voice in urging our state and federal officials to act. The time has again come for our local leaders to speak together emphatically in a community call for action.
These are but a few solutions, but they are a start. We’ve got to start somewhere to reverse the violent and virulent vortex in our community.
(Mr. Clarkson may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @TroyClarkson59.)