Hickory has a mighty drug problem. We’ve been cited as the 3rd (or 5th, depending on the year) worst community for opioid addiction in the nation, and that doesn’t even take into account the problems with crystal meth. HDR says that our drug arrest rate is 3 times the national average.
The high drug rates lead directly to high crime rates and astronomical property theft figures. So we, as a community, need to get it together. There’s no excuse for us to fall so far behind national averages. But we can’t get it together just by wagging our fingers at people using drugs. Because here’s the thing: they are ADDICTED to drugs, and addiction is a disease. If we want people to not be using drugs, we have to help support that process.
My personal hero Mister Rogers says that in any crisis, you should look for the Helpers. Cognitive Connection is already doing a wonderful job of helping addicted people get off of the substances they are addicted to. They help them get back on their feet and even help people convicted of drug crimes take classes instead of going to prison. They catch people as they exit the prison system or the hospitals, and they help them succeed. They are very successful at this. But they are doing this with nowhere near enough resources to tackle the problems we are facing.
As a City Councilwoman, I will look for ways to help this group financially, including grants and other things they may need. If we help people with their addiction, they stop buying drugs, which will eventually lead to a community that has fewer drugs. This is an important step.