We have a serious substance abuse problem in America, and it's particularly severe in northern New Mexico. A lot of people talk about tougher enforcement, but enforcement alone won't solve the problem. We need to work much harder to address the underlying social problems that make drug abuse an attractive option for our young people -- a lack of opportunity, an entrenched system of poverty, and an absence of role models and mentors that show young people that success is possible.
We need to support early prevention and mentorship programs that are tailored to fit the individual communities that are hardest hit by substance abuse. Prevention programs aren't one size fits all, and what works in Albuquerque might not work in, say, Espanola or Chimayo, because the culture is different.
We need to be much more innovative and do more "big picture" thinking with our handling of this critical issue.