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Drugs are a problem — across the country, across the state and in Christian County. We may live in a rural community, but we are not immune to the drug epidemic. It is here, and it is hurting our community. It is killing people — literally.

Suicide is also a problem. And while it may not be front and center in media reports, it happens in Christian County — a lot.

Coroner Mandi Armitage said in 2017, she completed 37 autopsies for the county. In 2016 it was only 11. There are different reasons to conduct an autopsy, depending on the circumstances surrounding the death. But, Armitage will tell you, that a 200 percent increase in autopsies shows there is an increase in drug overdoses and suicides.

As of last week, Armitage said she’s already completed two autopsies and one potential overdose in 2018.

Something needs to change, and we all need to do our part to help be that change.

No matter your thoughts on marijuana and the legalization of it, or the federal enforcement of the laws, I think we can agree on one thing: Children need to be taught about drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. They need to know how it affects them. They need to know that just because it’s legal, that doesn’t mean it’s good for your body.

We need to educate on drugs — over-the-counter, prescribed and illegal. We need to educate on suicide and the warning signs. We need to talk to our children about things that are often considered taboo.

We’d like to think that parents are helping teach these valuable lessons. Many are, but many are not. Some are abusing legal drugs and using illegal drugs in front of their children, making those children collateral damage of the drug epidemic. It’s a cycle that’s often hard to break.

That’s why the D.A.R.E. program in schools is vital. Just like how the drug of choice has changed through the years, so has D.A.R.E. It’s not just about illegal drugs, it’s about choices.

Let’s face it, everything in this world is about choices. And there is a consequence — negative or positive — for every choice you make.

You can learn more about D.A.R.E. on page 9B and more about opioids and overdoses on the front page.

This is a community problem, so we need to work as a community for a solution.

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Maybe the D.A.R.E program is working? Drug use across the United States among teens was lower in 2016 than 2015. That's the good news. The bad news is that Idaho still has a good sized drug problem. MSM reports that in 2015, 8.57 percent of kids 12-17 years old Idaho...


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