EDITORIAL: Keep recovery conversation transparent and civil

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 17, 2022

The effects of the opioid epidemic hitting our region are undeniable.

Nearly everyone knows someone who has battled addiction and many have lost a loved one to it.

So any assistance in curbing this crisis should be applauded.

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However, we have heard concerns some residents of the county have expressed about the number of treatment facilities opening in the area.

This issue was a major focus of last week’s meeting of South Point’s village council, in which residents spoke during the public comment portion of the session to take issue with a new facility that recently opened in the village.

In reporting for The Tribune, we have done stories on many of the treatment centers in the county and we have heard the success stories staff and clients tell of overcoming addiction and re-entering society.

Many of those who have completed treatment have gone on to get an education, secure good jobs and, in a lot of cases, stayed active in the recovery community, helping others who have followed them into treatment.

The vast majority of facilities in this area we have interacted with are regionally operated and staff have the best of intentions in wanting to help others.

Though there always exist the possibility of an out-of-area company buying up property and monetizing  the situation.

So we understand why residents have questions. As long as a property is zoned for commercial use, there is nothing a municipality can do to prevent a facility from opening, including those operated by out-of-area ownership.

There are things that can ensure a community is aware of what is coming in, such as requiring a business permit, and some locales have been able to come up with other steps along the way.

This is a conversation worth having — to keep the public apprised of any new business.

However, we would add that any such conversation should be mindful to not further the stigma that is often placed on those in treatment or to unfairly vilify all working in this field.

And we urge those operating facilities to be open with the community about what they do.

Those in treatment are someone’s family member, friend or relative and addiction should be viewed as a treatable illness. 

The drug issue exists in this county and driving out those who provide treatment services and a road to recovery are a necessity. The alternative of doing nothing or limiting services would only worsen the problem.

But it is always in the interest of a community to see to it that any business is operated responsibly and crafting a reasonable set of standards is a completely acceptable response.

We hope that officials will weigh all sides of this and find common ground so that those offering recovery can have an opportunity to be good neighbors, while, at the same time, concerns of the community can be alleviated.