Your report “With overdoses on the increase in Maine, a role for the public awaits” (Aug. 11) perpetuates the usual story line regarding addiction.

We learn that Laurie Bachelder viewed a man in Deering Oaks with a needle in his neck. Bachelder said, “It hit me like a ton of bricks that this stuff is everywhere. … So I had to do something.”

But just because “this stuff is everywhere” does not mean that everyone is compelled to use it.

According to Darren Ripley, of the Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery, “People are getting that it could happen here, it could happen to me, or it could happen to my best friend’s son. Addiction is not picky.”

Ripley also says it is sad that a stigma attaches to addicts, painting them as hopeless junkies.

Actually, addiction is picky. It picks on those willing to experiment with dangerous drugs, perhaps thinking they can control it. Conversely, most of us go through life with no desire to engage in such dangerous activities.

Contrary to Darren Ripley’s advice, quite possibly the best medicine would consist, at least in part, in continuing to attach a stigma to the use of dangerous drugs. We still attach a stigma to drunken driving (one more example of drug abuse), and woe to us if we stop doing that.

The statistics you report on are not in spite of the policies mentioned. They are a result of those policies.

William Vaughan Jr.

Chebeague Island