Coroner: drug abuse include prescriptions

Dear Editor and Residents of Tazewell County:

I began this letter to you at the conclusion of my 61 day as your Coroner.  I feel compelled to share my initial observations and to bring to you a pressing concern and plea.

The transition has gone smoothly, and the office of Coroner is serving you well.

Plans are taking shape to make us even more effective in the coming months as we review policies and procedures and update our technologies.  

We will be doing more and conserving your treasure as we go on into the future.

One area of concern for our community is the cause of death that my office has dealt with in my first 61 days. One death related to drug usage occurred every six days during this period. Heroin cases draw media attention because youth are involved.

And yet another situation just as devastating is ongoing.

Abuse of prescription medications is widespread and has proven to be the “Quiet Killer.”  Addiction is a disease process just as Cancer or Diabetes. Each of us who are ill deserves a chance to heal. Ignoring, enabling, isolating and denial are killing machines driven by pride or shame.

We need your help to put a stop to this. In the case of prescription drug abuse someone close to the abuser knows of the problem. “I know she uses drugs with her friends at times, but I don’t know what to say or do without upsetting our family.”

Silence yields very poor outcome. We need to identify individuals who suffer this addiction and develop a strategy to help them, to give them courage and hope. They need to know they are not alone in the struggle.

As your Coroner I ask you to reach out to those who suffer.  All that you love needs your help.  Not later. Now.

James J. Baldi
Tazewell County Coroner