We've never understood why so many, many younger West Virginians are compelled to wreck their lives and their futures through dope. It's pointless, futile, self-destructive -- almost a death wish.
Police seized 288 meth labs in the state last year, and the pace this year is twice as high. So far in 2013, a total of 113 labs have been found in Kanawha County -- eight times more than in any other county.
Residents of Oceana, Wyoming County, population 1,400, are upset because a documentary film, "Oxyana," showed the hopeless tragedy of the town's numerous OxyContin addicts, many of whom die of overdoses. Leaders have called a discussion meeting for May 31 at Oceana Middle School.
When Mingo County's sheriff was assassinated in his parked car, most people assumed it stemmed from his crusade against rampant drug addiction in the southern county. But the killer turned out to be just another armed psychotic. To honor the sheriff's memory, deputies staged a major sweep to jail dope pushers.
Adjoining McDowell County is another desolate "pillbilly" zone with America's worst rate of painkiller overdose deaths -- 12 a month. The new Reconnecting McDowell project hopes to reduce this toll, and fix other social ills.
Those three southern counties -- McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming -- produce endless reports of drug despair. But the reality in other parts of West Virginia is only slightly better.
Last month, a Texas doctor pleaded guilty to running a "pill mill" in Logan -- pushing expensive painkiller prescriptions from a crude building with no equipment or even running water. Prosecutors said the cash-only operation wasn't a medical office, it was a "drug den."
In Clarksburg, police are searching for a store operator who failed to show up for his trial on charges that he sold hallucinogenic "bath salts."
None of this nightmare would exist if young people could be prevented from becoming addicted, and if users had enough willpower to quit. Without paying customers, the whole drug culture would vanish.
Therefore, every type of preventive safeguard and counseling should be attempted. West Virginia's new "drug courts" that keep addicts out of prison offer a ray of hope. Many other efforts are afoot. Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center in Welch launched a drug treatment program with a capacity of 24 patients per session -- and soon got a waiting list of 143 applicants.
As we said, drug usage is senseless, a complete waste of young minds. It's irrational.
Someone said of actor Richard Burton: "Show a Welshman a door marked 'self-destruction' and he'll plunge through it headlong."
The same applies to dope-users. Almost suicidally, they destroy themselves. All possible ways to rescue them must be pursued.