To the Editor:

It seems everyone in Ridgefield is declaring victory because Mountainside withdrew its application to run a drug treatment facility. Please excuse me if I do not join the celebration.

The nation is in the grip of an opioid epidemic that far surpasses the earlier heroin, cocaine, crack, and methamphetamine problems. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the U.S., eclipsing deaths from motor vehicles and firearms. In 2014, there were 29,000 overdose deaths from prescription painkillers or heroin. Heroin is increasingly lethal as it is now combined with fentanyl. Nearly 5 million American are abusing prescription painkillers.

So what is our response? I was at the public hearing. The crowd was unruly and disrespectful.  “Our beautiful, bucolic town does not need a drug rehab facility! It will ruin our neighborhoods!” We don’t? When Mountainside said they have treated 158 Ridgefielders, they were ignored and vilified. In September, we had a 26-year-old female die of a drug overdose. Weeks ago, we had a 29-year-old die from heroin laced with fentanyl. In the past five years, emergency services have responded to 75 overdoses. We have the same opioid problem as the rest of America.   

I feel for the half-dozen neighbors who live closest to Sunset Hall. I feel a lot more for the next 75 people who overdose and their families. Most of all, I feel for the parents of the next two young adults who die from an overdose.  

This community, and every other community like it, needs to open its arms to drug treatment facilities. It is often said, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” We have chosen not to be part of the solution. We are then the problem.

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Ed Tyrrell