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County commissioners took the easy way out last month by declining to act on a rezoning request that would have allowed a residence on Girl Scout Road to be converted into a recovery home for men seeking to come clean from drugs.
Commissioners' inaction doesn't change the fact that there are people, right here, in need of care. We hope the setback doesn't change the commitment others have to working with people trying to overcome addictions.
Opposition to the recovery home by Girl Scout Road area residents needs to be addressed and we're certain similar protests will be raised when another site is proposed. Some of those concerns, such as declining property values, may be legitimate, but we think some of the other concerns are based more on fear than reality.
We've yet to be shown any evidence that shows drug addicts are prone to be sexual predators and while active addicts often steal to support their habits, the men who would reside in the recovery home will be drug-tested often to make sure they have not relapsed. Also, it's our understanding that the men in the program would be there voluntarily, not coerced by courts. They wouldn't be prison parolees from other counties, but men who are already living free in our community.
These are people trying to hold down jobs and beat addictions, not violent criminals or sexual predators.
Recovering alcoholics and drug addicts go into some churches for support- group meetings. We've not heard of any problems taking place during those assemblies.
The real danger to residents is from active methamphetamine labs hidden along roadsides or in empty buildings. Meth trash is tossed into dumpsters and discarded along roads. Cannelton police found a soda bottle converted into a meth generator in a dumpster in Hafele Park.
Just a couple of weeks ago, a Forest Service worker picked up other meth trash and was later treated at a hospital. While police weren't sure his chest pains were caused by the debris he picked up, the incident could show that there is a greater danger from covert meth cooks than from people who've acknowledged their addictions.
What our community needs is a realization that the community has a role in helping people beat addiction. The men, women and teens battling addiction today aren't strangers. They are our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers and co-workers. We should reach out to them with a helping hand, not give them the cold shoulder with comments like "we know you need help, just don't come to my neighborhood."
Opponents to the Girl Scout Road site have good intentions and we admire them for the desire to protect their neighborhood, but meth is already here. It's around us every day. What's needed is support for efforts to help those who have been ensnared by the drug but who now seek to be free.
We encourage the supporters of the recovery home to continue working on their plans and to consider partnering with other groups, such as Agape Recovery Ministries, that share similar missions. Treat addicts for what they are, people in need of help. They're not lepers. They're our neighbors. They're ours.
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