Awareness is key to addiction aid

We called her Martha, but of course that wasn’t her real name. Sadly, though, her story was, the story of her son’s addiction to prescription pills and alcohol, perhaps even more sadly, the difficulty she had in finding a facility where her son could be treated.

She wanted to find him help in New Hampshire, but the facilities that took his insurance either had no beds or only offer limited programs that Martha knew wouldn’t work. New Hampshire failed Martha and her son, and she eventually found him a facility in Florida.

Our state ranks among those with the highest rate of substance abuse in the country, while also being among the states with the lowest rates of access to treatment.

According to a survey from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services administration, only about 6 percent of the people in New Hampshire who needed substance abuse treatment are able to get it.

And why is that?

Perhaps because of the misconception that only “bad” kids get into trouble with drugs, a misconception that too many people might cling to so that they can assume that their “good” kid won’t get into trouble, and the ones who get in trouble deserve it.

If only bad kids get into trouble, there’s not as much incentive to help them.

But it isn’t true. We all know, if we choose to know, that good kids can get messed up because drugs are so prevalent and kids tend to be risk takers. It’s hard to say no when your friends are saying yes.

It is why it is so important to constantly reiterate, as recent local speakers have, that even honor students can choose to experiment, even kids on the football team. All kinds of pressures drive kids and sometimes the pressure to say “yes” is so great they feel they can’t say no.

Of course that doesn’t mean that every kid is a druggie, of course it doesn’t mean that good kids will use drugs. It just means they might, they could.

The danger is that parents of “good” kids won’t be wary, won’t be cognizant of the possibilities. Martha wasn’t, and didn’t know about her son until his siblings told her. How can we act if we don’t know? And how can we “know” if we assume only “bad” kids do drugs?

Awareness is the key. That is why local speakers, like Capt. Chris Nervik and Sgt. Matthew Fiffield, of the Milford Police Department, are so important. They bring the word. That’s all they can do.

The rest is up to us.