Editorial: One young man’s journey

Sun, 02/09/2014 - 3:00pm

The shocking death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman on Super Bowl Sunday from a heroin overdose has once again put that drug back into the spotlight. After that news became known, something predictable happened in the media: articles and TV reports started sensationalizing the presence of the drug by saying that it is ubiquitous and out of control.

Heroin is certainly something to be feared, but according to the most recent “National Survey on Drug Use and Health,” about 0.3 percent of the population in the U.S. used heroin in 2012. That’s up from 0.2 percent the year before.

What these small numbers do not do, however, is portray the devastation that drugs often inflict on the individuals who use them and the families of those people. The many fans that Hoffman left behind are the least important fact in his story; he was a father to three young children, as well as a son and sibling.

Although the preparation of the story that appears on the top of this week’s front page has been in the works for some time, we felt, in light of the current news environment, that the timing was right to begin this series on one man’s story of addiction and recovery.

The writer, Joel Taylor, is going to take us on this very personal journey. This is a courageous thing to do, and his writing is insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking. We need to pay attention to his voice, and to continue the conversation about drug addiction that began early last year.

We’re not going to paint a picture that Block Island is any more or any less afflicted by addiction, but it certainly has a presence here. It’s just a fact.

Because of that, Joel Taylor has an important story to tell, to anyone, anywhere.