THE WAY I SEE IT #23 : By Darren Murphy

editorial image

IT’S a deadly menace, which breeds crime and corruption. It destroys not only men and women, but entire families, even whole communities. Honest people can be turned into selfish crooks, beautiful women and handsome men can be transformed into unrecognisable monsters. Very few people can re-establish a normal life after falling into the clutches of this deadly predator.

Heroin, junk, skag, smack, regardless of the name you choose to give this devilish drug, there’s no denying it is a serious problem.

Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting alerted the world to Scotland’s heroin problem in the nineties. However, it isn’t just a city complaint. Even in semi-rural communities like Hawick, heroin is an evident and growing issue.

Hawick is a fantastic town, with good people, some beautiful architecture and a great historic atmosphere. That said it only takes a walk along the High Street and it’s possible you will come into close contact with a junkie. Apologies, I realise the latter is not the politically correct term (how thoughtless of me!), so for the remainder of this week’s column I’ll refer to them as drug addicts.

Now you might think I’m being a touch over the top, but believe me this is the situation in our town. Take last Saturday for example. I was on the High Street for around an hour, and in this relatively short period of time, I would say six drug addicts passed me by as I made my way from shop to shop. “Really, I’ve never seen them,” I hear you say. Maybe you haven’t, but for the record, those people who pass you by, looking like they are in the early stages of rigor mortis are, in fact, drug addicts.

You may think I’m being terribly insensitive, as anything could have led to these people falling into the despair of addiction. I have genuine sympathy for any drug abusers who have turned to narcotics because of some traumatic experience or if they are trying to kick their habit. But, many of Hawick’s substance abusers are repeat offenders, who are quite prepared to go to any lengths to get their next fix, and they have made no attempt to rectify their behaviour, nor have they ever shown any remorse for their crimes.

A large number of people have recently voiced their concerns about thieves in the area. Rightly so, with many folk complaining of hearing door handles being rattled in the middle of the night, while some have witnessed suspicious-looking characters in back gardens, and others have had had to endure the awful experience of people entering their homes and stealing items. Local victims of this type of criminality have fortunately not lost hugely expensive items, with the majority of things taken falling under the bracket of easily-sold valuables. And it’s this manner of theft that convinces me where the problem is arising and by whom the crime is being committed.

Various groups try to convince us that drug addicts need to be nurtured and embraced to help them win their battle and beat their demons. However, it often becomes hard not to judge those who are in the grip of drugs, especially when the question of whether we are safe in our own homes becomes a real issue.

Scotland has thrown so much weight behind alcohol awareness campaigns in the past few years, it seems to me that heroin use has been allowed to spread almost unchallenged. I have genuine concerns for the Hawick community and I feel it’s important that people are educated on the matter, especially youngsters who may be naïve and curious enough to try this awful substance.

At the moment, drug addiction in Hawick is a small issue, so let’s work together to make sure it doesn’t become a bigger problem. Also, let’s be diligent, keep windows and doors locked, it only takes a few seconds for someone to enter and exit your home. Don’t be negligent, or you might just be providing an addict with their latest meal ticket.