I attended the last Opioid Task Force discussion and movie on July 24 held at Traditional Council, and left there feeling first and foremost frustrated, but also frightened and shocked!

I went to the meeting because my beloved grandchildren live here and we are seasonal residents of Skagway. I was concerned with what I was hearing about an opioid crisis in Skagway.  One of the main reasons I have always been thankful my grand babies were being raised in Skagway is because I believed Skagway is a safe, loving, family-orientated, crime-free, close-knit community where everyone is family and everyone watches out for each other.

Quickly, my curiosity turned into shock and the realization that I didn’t know anything really about opioid addiction and my denial that this could be in Skagway was quickly dispelled.

I didn’t know addiction can occur after one pill. I didn’t know kids as young as 11 and 12 are becoming addicted primarily due to peer pressure. I didn’t know how widespread it is. I didn’t know how low the recovery rate is. I didn’t know how prevalent it is in Skagway.

I beg all parents of Skagway, stop looking the other way! This can happen to your kid, regardless how great your home life or your parenting skills are! It is real and it is here in Skagway! The Skagway Police Department was not present at this meeting. They play a major role in stopping this crisis, but if it is not happening, then the parents must take a stand. Only a total of approximately 20 people were present, and my guess was four-five of those were parents of Skagway kids. First and foremost, parents, see this film and learn the facts so you can be aware. [Editor’s Note: The film shown at the Traditional Council was “Chasing the Dragon.” The film is available to watch at www.fbi.gov/ChasingTheDragon. Be warned that the film contains strong language.]

I don’t think most parents realize the seriousness of this crisis in our small town, and neither did I. Secondly, our kids 10 years old and up need to be educated about the strong addictive forces of just one pill. They need to be shocked by the fact that one bad choice will destroy their life forever!

The film is shocking, but the kids need to know the facts so they can make the right choice when faced with peer pressure. Parents, speak to the school and watch this film with your kids. Knowledge is power, and your kids need to know the facts and the consequences. All parents need to band together and act and show that opioids will not be tolerated in Skagway.

A lot of great ideas were presented at the meeting, but we all left with no plan. A plan of action needs to be formed and this entire community needs to band together to establish a strong force against this epidemic. Please stop turning your heads, or leaving it up to the SPD to handle. It is your kids’ life at risk! The parents need to facilitate positive action to stop this use in Skagway.

In the end, it is our kids that will suffer, who will be at risk of lifelong addiction. Please parents, let’s be strong together. If this continues to go on without consequences to those bringing these drugs in, the crime rate in Skagway will rise and we will be burying our own kids and their playmates. I am scared to death, and so should all of you!

Kathy Warchuck • Skagway