Editorial: Keeping Craig healthy means welcoming addiction therapy
The city of Craig, in all its rural perfection and isolated beauty, isn’t immune from a problem found too often in communities across the country: addiction.
Felony drug arrests for possession of methamphetamine, heroin, and other dangerous drugs are common in Craig. The same faces often frequent our jail, many of them opioid or methamphetamine addicts. Others suffer from alcoholism and might be facing their fourth or more charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Samantha Johnston, general manager for Colorado Mountain News Media-West
Clay Thorp, reporter
Pete Pleasant, community representative
Desiree Moore, community representative
Contact the Editorial Board at editor@CraigDailyPress.com.
However, many live and work in Craig, and despite their addiction, they are still people. They’re our friends and neighbors, our sisters and brothers. They make up the fabric of our community just like we all do. They’re all people who are loved by someone. They are all “ours.”
Some think addicts aren’t criminalized enough, that tough laws against drugs enacted during the Reagan and Clinton administrations were too lenient, and we should continue jailing drug abusers at record levels. Some think it’s fine our state and county jails have become de-facto addiction treatment facilities.
We realize treating the root causes of drug addiction is critical to reducing the number of addicts who find their way to our jails, but we don’t think folks belong in jail just for being ill. Allowing the most ill among us to remain ill with no local opportunity to receive treatment that directly addresses addiction isn’t a good way to keep our community safe and our healthcare costs down. We want our community healthy and happy and part of that will involve welcoming those seeking treatment at Craig’s new addiction treatment center, wherever that may be.
Providence Recovery Services’ recent decision to rescind their plans to make the Yampa Building into an addiction treatment center was met with praise by many in the Craig and Moffat County communities. Some felt Moffat County School District wasn’t acting in the best interests of future students and taxpayers by essentially donating the building for use by drug addicts. Many feel they want an addiction treatment facility in Craig, but MCSD wasn’t transparent enough about the Yampa Building deal.
Providence Recovery Services and Memorial Regional Health should see the recent events concerning the Yampa Building as an opportunity. The Yampa Building deal falling through may have been the best thing for a successful future treatment center in Craig because the community can get behind it now. The emotional connection to the Yampa Building — its place in the childhood memories of so many Craig residents, its market value, and prime location — will no longer impact Craig’s potential addiction treatment center once a fitting location is found.
But, the future of the Yampa Building is still uncertain, so this week’s school district listening session and meetings like it are crucial going forward. They allow the school board to hear from constituents who are busy with their everyday lives — their children, their homes, their families, and their jobs — residents who heard what was happening to Craig’s Yampa Building and were moved to action.
Those resident taxpayers shouldn’t be chided for not attending school board meetings until now. They should be respected and listened to so the school board can avoid claims of no transparency in the future. The public may have been disengaged while the Yampa Building deal was being discussed, but that’s even more a reason for the school board and for Providence Recovery Services to keep the public’s attention on their plans throughout the process instead of feigning transparency near the end.
The Craig and Moffat County communities also bear some responsibility for keeping abreast of what our school district is doing. Public officials work for us, but the only way they can represent out interests is if we make attending public meetings and sharing our opinions a priority.
Show up and speak up. Your opinion only matters if it’s heard. Perhaps if we band together as a community and all play our part in this our great American experiment, we can avoid another valuable but empty public building in Craig.