Drug culture has grip on Butler County

Published 4:34 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Butler County has a drug problem.

That became obvious last week when a roundup by the Second District Judicial Task Force netted 29 arrests, 28 of which were on drug-related charges. Twenty-three of those 28 arrests were for unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.

You might be thinking that in a county of approximately 20,000 people, having a mere 23 people arrested for dealing drugs doesn’t seem so bad. But step back and look at this from a different angle.

Email newsletter signup

Why is it that people deal drugs?

We’d contend that they do so because it’s easy money. Making some quick cash while standing on the corner isn’t nearly as hard as working 9 to 5.

But like any other business, customers are a necessary part of the equation. We wouldn’t have had 23 drug dealers arrested if there weren’t folks lining up to buy their products. The simple fact is that if there were no customers, there would be no dealers.

To put that number in perspective, by our count there are 14 fast food restaurants in Greenville. That’s nine less than the number of drug dealers that were recently arrested.

So, yes, 23 people were arrested for dealing drugs. But how many others have they crossed paths with?

There’s likely no way to know for sure, but one thing is clear, the drug culture has its grip on our county. The question then becomes what do we do to free ourselves from its grip?

Getting the dealers off the street is certainly a step in the right direction, and we’d like to commend the Second District Judicial Task Force for its efforts to eradicate illegal drug use in our community. We’d also like to encourage the community to get in on the fight by reporting suspicious activity in our neighborhoods to the authorities.

But simply locking dealers up isn’t enough. When one goes behind bars, another will pop up on the corner to take his place. As long as there’s a profit to be made, someone will be willing to take the risk of selling drugs. It would seem then that the key is to destroy the market. If there are no customers, there is no business.

As a community we need effective programs that guide potential users away from drugs and help drug users overcome their habit.

Until we find a way to do that, we will continue to see the Second District Judicial Task Force rounding up high numbers of drug dealers.