The City of Norwich and the surrounding communities recently have had two pretty significant events happen. Needless to say, these events were not positive and involved the drug heroin.
This past Sunday, October 4, I woke up to find my Facebook blowing up about another young man, only a year older than myself, who passed away from heroin overdose. At 23 years old his life was sadly cut short by this addictive drug. My thoughts go out to him and his family. As I did not know this young man extremely well, I still had spoken to him many times, had class in high school with him, and considered him a good person. I believe that it was generally known that he had been struggling with addiction for many years. However – to my understanding – every time he would leave the area to get clean, he would do just that, but every time this man would come back to Norwich, he would relapse. This says something about the community and environment we as a community are allowing to exist.
The community I grew up in as a little kid seemed so innocent just a few short years ago, maybe I was naïve, but I feel like I never heard of any deaths, murders, and I especially never heard of people I knew dying from drug overdose. The state that Chenango County, but especially Norwich is currently in, is extremely saddening.
Heroin is becoming an epidemic in American society, let alone the small community that is Norwich. Just for the record, I am a huge believer in freedom of choice, I think we live in the United States, and therefore I say ‘do what you please’ when it comes to yourself. I know heroin and other drugs are illegal, and I am not trying to condone the use of them at all by saying this. However, when deciding to use heroin, it is your choice, and your choice alone to do so, or not to do so. But that only goes as far as your choices to yourself and should not include the sale of heroin.
In recent weeks, Chenango County Court was busy with a jury trial for now convicted felon, Jose Gonzalez. Gonzalez was arrested last year and allegedly had in his possession 45 individually packaged packets of heroin. Gonzalez claimed these were for personal use, however, he was found guilty by the jury for the intended sale of heroin. Whether the jury correctly found him guilty or not is almost beyond the point, as I feel this drug needs to be removed from the community. This past Monday, Oct. 5th, Gonzalez returned to court and was sentenced to five years on each felony count and one year on each misdemeanor count, all of which will run concurrently. This sentencing, will help keep heroin off the streets of Norwich, and I applaud all the agencies who have stepped in to help in an effort to clean up our community, but especially the Norwich Police Department in the Gonzalez case.
Are we doing enough, though?
If our law enforcement agencies are tracking down and arresting drug dealers to the best of their ability, and our District Attorney’s Office is working diligently to put the these criminals behind bars for as long as possible, then why does this problem seem to be getting worse and worse as time passes?
The problem in my eyes, is the numbness from our community.
We as a community have almost become accustomed to seeing and hearing about these tragic events happen. It is time everyone in the community take some initiative to help the addicts in our community – especially heroin addicts – but I am talking about all addicts. This way we don’t have to hear about the next individual who loses their life in a fight with addiction.
Norwich was a great place to grow up, but if we look at what Norwich has to offer troubled individuals, it isn’t much. Norwich needs a remodeling, and quick.
My editor at The Evening Sun, Ashley Babbitt, recently wrote an article about free Narcan training. She wrote in her article; “With opiate and heroin use at epidemic levels in many areas, a group in Sidney is holding a free event open to the public in an attempt to train attendees to potentially save lives. The Southern Tier AIDS Program (STAP) will be hosting an informational session and training on the administration of Narcan (naloxone) at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Sidney Fire Department, 74 River St.”
I encourage everyone who can go, and who is interested, to check out this event happening today.
People in the community need to reach out to addicts, let them know they are there for support, or if that is too much to ask for at least work to make Norwich a better place for future families to raise children. Instead of just sitting back and reading and hearing about these events after they have already have transpired.