Awareness group calls city to action on increased drug addictions

By BRIAN COSNER, News Review Staff Writer

“I am here because our youth are dying,” said Deborah Smith of Ridgecrest Addiction Awareness. “If you look out into this crowd, you will see pictures and faces of people who are impacted by drugs in this town.”

Smith and a group of advocates addressed City Council last week during public comment. Holding signs in memory of those lost to drug addictions, including the recently passed David Wilson, 25, the group pleaded with council and the community to “act now” to combat what many called a local heroin epidemic.

“I have been approached by many asking for an anonymous drug hotline where citizens are able to comfortably turn in drug houses, dealers or users that are in danger,” said Smith.

Smith stressed the importance of an anonymous hotline. She said there is a real fear of people dealing or using drugs when it comes to talking to law enforcement regarding drug activity. The fear of being a “narc” keeps many away from alerting the authorities.

“We want to help bridge the gap between the police department and active citizens of Ridgecrest, and build a coalition to help battle this epidemic,” she said. “Several recent overdose deaths show we are not immune.”

Smith also encouraged ride-alongs with the Ridgecrest Police Department for children as young as 11 to “stop the cycle before it starts” by expanding children’s drug education.

“There are so many people who are blind to the problem, and turning a blind eye is not helping,” said Smith. “We, as a community, need to let the dealers and addicts know that we are no longer standing for this. You either stop using, get help, or get out.”

Other local groups have expressed interest in the past to address local drug problems. One goal of the Ridgecrest House of Prayer is to establish a “halfway house” for recovering addicts. Crossroads Community Church also has a “battling addictions” group that meets every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. See Facebook for more information about these groups, and also visit Ridgecrest Addiction Awareness’s page.

Story First Published: 2017-06-16