We are all aware of our national and local heroin addiction explosion. This cannot be blamed on one or even several tentacle-like occurrences. So many factors must be considered that the mind is boggled.

Wrapping arms around them to study causes and effects and a tsunami of other factors is nearly impossible. However, our media has done a great job presenting researched and thought-out informational reports.

We are deeply impressed by gripping stories of young people being found with needles hanging from their arms in grotesque end-of-life horror, or overdosed drivers stopped by troopers after barreling onto I-295.

How can we shake the story of a valiant mother, a financial expert, whose life is changed by a walk through the needles in Deering Oaks?

We cannot blame the public for looking away. They have logged in to this, but are scared and hamstrung. Out of sight should not mean out of mind.

Families of addicts are “coming out” in frank, transparent obituaries that are met with near 100 percent positive responses. Law enforcement is logged in – jails are full.

However, political response to this acute epidemic uncovers a lack of understanding at all levels. Our U.S. senators report an $800,000 federal grant for treatment, whereas $8 million would be starkly inadequate.

Furthermore, the idea that millions of dollars be thrown at more law enforcementincluding the National Guard – suggests to me that Gov. LePage may be committing the crime of practicing medicine without a license.

Key words here are “treatment,” “acute” and “chronic.” Stereotypes of addicts are overblown. They are not criminals to start, and they hate being addicted. Somewhere along the line they made a simple, uneducated, erroneous choice.

We need to help them. This is largely a medical problem. Shame on our hospitals and our doctors for remaining silent.

Richard C. Dillihunt, M.D.

Portland