Jackson Hole has a drug and alcohol problem. It needs and deserves a drug and alcohol treatment center, and it has the unique philanthropic passion to create one.
Teton County’s rampant alcohol abuse has been reported on many times — so often that some may write off public intoxication or DUI reports as harmless indiscretions or victimless crimes, a result of cops not having more “serious” matters to attend to. At least until a tragedy, like an automobile fatality, shakes the community.
Given Jackson Hole’s reputation as a party town, where residents and visitors play hard outdoors and then often play harder with booze and other substances, changing the pattern will take time, effort and money.
The need for that change is more urgent than ever. In several recent busts, town and county law enforcement have charged suspects with possession of misdemeanor and felony quantities of marijuana and cocaine, as well as prescription drugs, LSD, ecstasy, methamphetamine and heroin.
It isn’t the first time police have picked up someone for possession of addictive narcotics, but what used to be a rare arrest is becoming more frequent, police say, and that’s a concern for everyone.
It is not square or prudish to take a strong stance against drug abuse. Whether you agree with drug policy or not, their possession and use is illegal. What’s more, their users often turn to other crimes to support their habits. They ruin lives and even kill.
While the area’s tolerance for alcohol and marijuana may have led to some confusion about community standards, its attitude on substances should be perfectly clear: There is no place here for opioids, stimulants and designer synthetics.
It’s easy to say “no,” but as many towns and cities across the country have found out, taking decisive action is another matter. While the criminal justice system has a role to play, compassionate treatment and passionate rehabilitation should be the ultimate goal.
As Old Bill’s demonstrates, Teton County knows about compassion and passion. Now is the time to direct those powerful forces and to create a Teton County system to help those who have fallen victim to substance abuse escape its grip, and to prevent and reverse the spread of this infection.