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The question I think we need to be asking is what's wrong with a system that fills our jails with drug users but doesn't go after the drug peddlers?
To me, justice for Henry will be achieved if Knox County law enforcement shuts down the pipeline of opiates that are getting into the hands of our young people. They could start by more aggressively prosecuting the adult addicts and career criminals who are selling these drugs to teens.
This article quotes Katie Granju as saying that more teens and young adults are now dying of drug overdoses than in car wrecks... I don't doubt that. I'd like to see the actual numbers and age breakdown of those in Knox County who have died of accidental opiate overdose in the past few years--I have looked for it on the Knox County Health Dept website and on the Knox County Sheriff's office website, without success.
I personally know of five people between the ages of 18 and 23 who recently died of unintended opiate overdose. And I know of one Webb grad and two recent Powell grads who are currently in rehab and taking Methadone--they are not out of the woods yet.
I have never been in jail, never been addicted, and don't hang out with criminals, so if this many drug overdose deaths have touched my life in the past 5 years I have to believe that the addiction epidemic is an even bigger problem than most of us imagine, and that Henry was just one more unfortunate victim.
Opiate addiction affects people in all areas of town, but I can only speak for people I know who have kids at West, Bearden High, Farragut High, Catholic, Karnes High, Powell High, Halls, CAK, Episcopal School, Webb, and Hardin Valley. They tell me that a shocklingly large number of kids at these schools are buying and using opiates. They buy them from each other in small quantities, but the real source is a network of pushers who prey on kids from "rich families."
We're talking about average kids who at age 13-17 are naive, or willing to try something because it seems cool, or think that they are bullet-proof because it's the nature of immature minds to think that way. The problem is, opiates on the market today are highly addictive, so kids who start out dumbly "experimenting" are quickly turned into junkies.
The system to deal with drugs IS NOT WORKING, and the result is what happened to Henry.
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