Anyone who has held the hand of a loved one struggling to overcome drug abuse knows the toughest battles take place outside the courtroom.
Whether its methamphetamine, cocaine, or alcohol, the drug and it's devastating influence is fought by the entire family within the walls of their own home.
Unfortunately, for many families, drug addiction is an ongoing conflict that often ends in broken homes, trampled lives and death.
In the Friday Roundup we published a front-page story showing before and after photos of methamphetamine users who bartered their lives and family relationships for a drug. (See payson.com archives, keyword: methamphetamine.)
These were not photos of strangers taken from some national website. Instead, they were pictures of people who live right here in our community. Perhaps you recognized one as a classmate. One might be a favorite cashier who always greeted you with a smile. Another might be a friend. Or maybe looking at the photos was even more difficult because it was the face of your own child.
Few things are more painful for a parent or grandparent than to watch their children be destroyed by an addiction. For them, memories of a happy, innocent child can haunt them and are often accompanied with feelings of guilt as they ask, "Could I have done something different?"
As a society, we must decide that we can make a difference. We must send a clear message to our children that drugs will destroy them. We cannot dilute that message by legalizing dangerous drugs no matter how loud some organizations scream and protest.
Today's Roundup features a front-page story about a program that is making a difference. With the help of family, friends and caring professionals, the Gila County Juvenile Drug Court program can be part of an escape plan for addicted youth, helping them avoid a life peppered with prison time, pain and grief.
But even with public programs and anti-drug legislation, the best weapon in this war is still a loving parent who is involved in a child's life and sets the example by living drug-free.
Parents with children of all ages, from preschool to high school, will find an excellent list of tips to keep children drug free on the U.S. Department of Education website at www.ed.gov/parents/academic/involve/drugfree/index.html