Editorial: Drugs in our cabinets

Conscientious parents have long known not to leave a loaded gun in their closet. They know to keep poisons out of reach from small children, to lock their liquor cabinets and to insist on seatbelts and bike helmets.

Why, then, do so many parents still have narcotics in their medicine cabinets?

Those narcotics — from Vicodin to Oyxcodone — are, in some ways, as dangerous as a loaded gun. They’re highly addictive opiates that are increasingly part of the underground drug traffic — on Vashon and elsewhere. And what’s particularly frightening is that when these expensive prescription drugs become scarce, an addict might turn to the next best thing — heroin, where there’s a fine line between a high-inducing injection or a lethal one.

According to some drug-abuse experts on Vashon, that very path has unfolded for a few teens on the Island. One young man who is now fighting an addiction to heroin first toyed with opiates when a friend brought his father’s prescription painkillers to school.

There’s not a lot parents can do to keep heroin pushers off the Island. But we can play a role in keeping prescription painkillers out of the high school, since we’re one of the primary sources for such substances.

Over the past two months, a cross-section of Islanders has engaged in wide-ranging conversations about drug and alcohol use on Vashon. Professionals in the field, students, parents and others have come together in a number of settings to explore Vashon’s ongoing problem with substance abuse.

Each of us needs to do our part. One small piece is knowing what’s in our medicine cabinet and bringing the same responsibility we show with guns to the powerful ammunition tucked away in our bathrooms.

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