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Addictions unchecked affect whole community

Fort Knox and the Army Substance Abuse Program hosted more than 40 organizations at its Substance Abuse Awareness Day Oct. 17 at the Saber & Quill on post.

“[Our] primary focus is substance abuse awareness and it is specifically for adults — Soldiers, civilians, Family members, educators, retirees and youth leaders,” said Dr. Debra Kirksey, substance abuse prevention specialist at the installation’s Army Substance Abuse Program. “We need to know what our young folks know.”

Alcohol and drug addictions are a huge problem in today’s society, and drug pushers see teens and young adults as lucrative targets, said Martin Redd, a diversion program manager with the Drug Enforcement Agency.

“Most teens say they’d much prefer taking pills from their own medicine cabinet — not even knowing what it is — rather than going to the corner drug dealer. They just know it’s safer. It’s prescribed from a doctor and picked up at a pharmacy,” Redd said. “Prescription pills, alcohol, marijuana, which is still federally illegal, they are all gateways. They all lead to bigger drugs.

“When the high of those things wear off, or they find that the hard stuff is so inexpensive and easier to get, the dealers are out there looking for them.”

Redd said that parents are the best guard dogs against drug dealers looking for vulnerable targets, but they’ve got to know what to look for.

“You’ve got to know your kids. You’ve got to watch for changes,” he said. “Changes in behavior, changes in friends. When they move to a less desirable group of friends. When they used to dress well and now they don’t care about clothes, make-up or hair or when they lose motivation — you need to get to the bottom of it.”

Clinton Turner, a detective with the Greater Hardin County Narcotics Task Force, agrees that being proactive is better than being reactive where alcohol and drugs are involved.

“[This information] is very useful because the individuals here are usually moms and dads, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, and they are becoming aware,” Turner said. “If they’re into it, get them into treatment now. The quicker you get involved now the easier time you’ll have preventing them from becoming an addict.”

Turner said find a marijuana dealer, and you’ll find other, harder drugs.
“Part of the reason [these] are gateway drug[s] is because dealers want you [to come] back. Anyone dealing marijuana can get you what you want,” Turner said. “[They] need you addicted. If you’re hooked, you’re a customer and a steady source of income.

“They introduce the other drugs, too. They are the gateway.”

It’s not just being proactive within your family, but Turner said it’s also being preemptive with the drug dealers in the community who segue other crimes by selling drugs.

“Drugs, prostitution, human trafficking, pedophilia — they all go hand-in-hand. It’s like peanut butter and jelly, where you find [drugs], you find the others,” Turner said. “Addicts will do whatever they can to get a fix — if they have to, they’ll sell their body. It’s all connected inside one big circle.”

Turner said the effects of drugs runs downhill affecting even small town America.

“Louisville now has its own DEA office to better deal with the drug trade and violence that goes with it,” Turner said. “They’ve deemed it a ‘source city’ where you can find a variety and large [supplies] of drugs.

“That’s all filtered down here into greater Hardin County.”

That includes Fort Knox and its Soldiers.

“It’s a big enough [problem] that we have the Drug Suppression Team with the specific task to deal with [the drug issue],” CID Investigator David Smith said. “Marijuana is the drug we find most.

“Soldiers [mistakenly] think that their military record stays with the military. They don’t realize that if you get charged in the Army for an Article 112 — UCMJ action that goes on your criminal record,” Smith said. “[It] won’t read you smoked pot to get out, it will read, ‘wrongful use, possession and distribution of a controlled substance’.

“They don’t know which of those you did or didn’t do, but that’s on your permanent record.”

But Smith said it’s not just marijuana making its way onto the Army post.

“Marijuana, [may not seem like] that big a deal, but when we’re searching cars and we smell marijuana, we’re finding all kinds of other stuff. We’re finding Chrystal Meth, we’re finding Heroin, we’re finding needles,” Smith said, “It’s not well known, but we’ve had people die on Fort Knox this year from drug overdose.”

The problem is big and getting bigger and must be met head on, said Marc Thurman, a master addictions counselor with Substance Use Disorder Clinic Care. The individual antidote for addiction has to be self-prescribed as well.

“The sooner a Soldier comes to me the more I’m able to help,” Thurman said. “We’ve seen Soldiers standing in line for a urinalysis raise their hand, ‘Excuse me, I’ve used drugs and need help,’ but that’s reporting under duress, and I’m no help to you at that point.

“When you’re dealing with drugs and alcohol, the Soldier needs to be ready to get help. True self-disclosure is realizing you need help and seeking help, and that is self-driven.”

Thurman said that fear keeps many addicted Soldiers from getting the help they need.

“There is a stigma in the military about ASAP or SUDCC, and there is a fear that command is going to be involved. Where drugs are involved, there’s always that chance,” Thurman said. “The Soldier might lose standing, rank or even a career, but you might save your life.

“We have the best success with good family support and good command support, but ultimately there’s a point where the Soldier must take responsibility for their actions. Then they can take responsibility for their recovery.”

Either way the consequences of your decision are coming, but Thurman says that freedom is only found by facing your consequences and accepting responsibility for them.

“[We] can’t protect them from their own bad decisions. They need to be held accountable,” Thurman said. “If you continue to use, you’ve got to go.”

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally published at the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System Hub (www.didvshub.net). The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

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