Not just another overdose

Published 12:01 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2015

By Chris George / Guest Columnist

I recall being in the home of a young person who had died as the result of a drug overdose. This was many years ago, but what happened adds credence to every investigation I’ve been in charge of since.
It was a familiar scene that I’ve been to many times, and we were there to do our job. Sometimes, we have to be reminded what that job is. The fire and rescue personnel are called to either attempt to resuscitate the person or assist in determining if they are dead. Law enforcement’s job is to make sure the area remains secure, determine if a crime has been committed, and if any illegal substance remains, that it be recovered and disposed of.
On this one occasion though, I overheard someone say, “It’s just another overdose.” That one statement flew all over me and I commenced to explain the true nature of our existence. Law enforcement is more than just a job; It’s a lifestyle in which every action you take, on or off duty, should be an effort to make the community better.
This wasn’t just another overdose; this was someone’s child.  This was someone’s daughter, sister, niece and friend. This was a person that was part of our community, therefore that person is us. They don’t represent what we want to see, but when I see their family picture on the wall when they were in their prime, I can assure you this is not how they wanted it to end.
When that person chose to consume the narcotic, then that narcotic chose to consume them and it no longer became a choice. An addiction is something that a person has to do, in their mind just to cope or they may even feel they need the next fix just to survive.
That first experience was maybe to escape from final exams or to blend in with the crowd. But just like we need food and water to survive, this person becomes dependent on their drug and will do anything for it. Narcotics have no nutritious value to them, and are designed to make you want more. It is a common practice for a drug dealer to give you a taste of what he has for free because he knows you’ll be back for more.
It is an ugly world that I know both personally and professionally but it’s our world, it’s Shelby County.  We can’t turn our head and pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s in our schools, our churches, our workplace and our homes.  It’s in every community from Greystone to Pea Ridge, from the Cahaba River to the Coosa River and every addict is who we are, not just another overdose.