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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion / Editorials

Drug addiction is a community problem

By Heather Acheson, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 3, 2014, 4:00pm

Dianne and Darin Van Dyken are lucky to be alive.

As profiled in an article in today’s Post-Record, before the two met in 2012, they had both had serious addictions to drugs and alcohol. The destructive paths they chose to take in their lives led to very dark places. Darin ended up in what he describes as “the ghetto,” essentially homeless and dealing drugs to survive, while Dianne had attempted suicide and was eventually arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicants — her blood alcohol level pushed to a point that could have been deadly. Both had several unsuccessful attempts to get clean.

They hit “rock bottom.”

In the end, both were able to get help through an in-patient treatment organization called Teen Challenge. After what was likely a very difficult mental, physical and emotional process, both came out on the other side better than they went in. They now work to help others who are facing the same demons.

Their story is one of triumph against addictions that many people never recover from, and many others lose their lives to. But the couple’s story can also serve as an illustration of how our insurance system is failing some, and how the resources that people with substance abuse problems truly need are not always easily available.

Drug abuse is not just the problem of the person who has the addiction. It impacts families, friends as well as entire communities in the form of increases in crime and significant health issues. And as such, our citizens, community leaders and legislators must work diligently to improve prevention programs and also help make high quality health and treatment resources available to all, no matter what their income level.

Columbian staff writer