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Mi Town : Patty Taylor Dutcher

Life in MI Town isn't all sunshine and light and singing Kumbaya around the campfire, no matter how much I wish it was. Recent news stories about crime and drug and alcohol abuse underscore how things can spin out of control and lives can be destroyed in any community.

It doesn't take a nuclear scientist to know that methamphetamine addiction is one of the most horrible things ever to plague our towns, state and nation. Meth destroys more lives than alcohol and other drugs, motor vehicle crashes, fires and natural disasters combined.

Users can become addicted after only one use, and the road back is a difficult one indeed, with families forever scarred and lives that may never reconnect.

Child abuse and neglect is only one byproduct of meth use, but it is the most dreadful and damaging act that can happen to a family. Babies and children are exposed to dangerous chemicals because of their parents' addictions. Many little children are sexually abused as well. Police officers and child welfare workers frequently walk through houses knee deep in garbage and human waste to rescue neglected and abused children who are in need of physical as well as emotional nourishment.

These children are frightened and tearful and don't understand why they are being carried away by strangers -- police and social workers are doing their best to protect these innocents from even more damage by those who should have been loving and caring for them.

These sights and sounds and smells are not the ones conveyed to viewers of TV programs or movies. Emotional distress and plain old sweat and tears accompany those who have sworn to protect and serve all the citizens of our communities, and they will carry those memories always.

Hope and help is available to people affected by drug and alcohol abuse. Most of this help becomes available after people have entered the criminal justice system. Mothers and fathers are taught parenting skills, anger management, how to handle crisis situations and many other positive things they use to put their families back together.

Job assistance and training is available to help people learn how to work and provide for their families.

Ongoing alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous groups are available and offer hope and encouragement to those whose lives have been affected by addiction and substance abuse.

What can we do in MI Town? We can encourage friends and family members who are struggling with alcohol or drug problems to seek help for those problems, immediately.

We can give our local law enforcement and child service organizations all our encouragement and support for the positive things they do to make our communities a safer place.

We can be good neighbors and watch over young children and families who might need more help and guidance in their lives. And we can all make it clear that methamphetamine use and child abuse are not welcome and will not be tolerated in our community.

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