"I knew that guy from high school."
" I think I went out with that guy's sister."
"Isn't that so-and-so's kid?"
"I never knew they were into drugs like that."
Those were just a few of the comments I heard last week after the names of more than a dozen people were revealed as part of law enforcement officials' drug arrests in a dramatic drug sweep.
Some onlookers were surprised at the names on the list while others just shook their heads, claiming they were not surprised at the arrests.
Not surprised? Some of us have become awfully complacent about the drug activity in this valley.
I don't know any more about the circumstances of the case than what I have read in this newspaper but I do know that these latest drug arrests are a big deal. The law men and women who investigated the case and were able to make the arrests have to feel good about getting this level of criminal activity off the streets.
I just wonder how long it will take for others to fill in where those arrested left off. I don't know when it happened or why illegal drug use has risen to the extent it has in the Ohio Valley.
Heroin appears to be in greater demand along with any form of narcotic medication the users can get their hands on. The crimes associated with junkies also have increased as evidenced by the number of burglaries, armed robberies and car break-ins that we have seen on the police blotters.
What is so bad about a person's life that getting high is the only way to exist? Is it something handed down by generations of abuse? Is it economy-driven? It has to be expensive in so many ways.
There are days I would rather crawl into a dark place and leave the world outside the door but I don't. You are not human if life hasn't punched you in the gut a few times. It's how you recover that makes you a better person.
Drug users have no mirrors in their lives ... they don't want to see the truth. But friends and loved ones see the spiral downward each day.
No longer can we be content with sending sympathy cards to friends after a child or sibling has died from a drug overdose. It's time to step in when and where you can. It's time to be a tattle tale and report to police when we see a drug deal transacted on our streets.
Resource officers in our schools are good people who keep their eyes and ears open. They want to help, to intervene before drugs destroy another life. It's up to us as parents to encourage our kids to do the right thing and let the officers know about drug abuse or sales among their peers. They just may save a life or a lifetime in prison.
Every time a drug arrest report crossed the newsroom desk, I used to think about how many lives that one arrest affected. Now I know - it's all of us.
Heather Ziegler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.