Reader Comment: Reducing Illegal Drugs In Twin Falls

Reader Comment: Reducing Illegal Drugs In Twin Falls

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Drake Folks


Drugs are a plague almost anywhere you go. Sadly, Twin Falls is a prime example of this. In many local schools marijuana, nicotine and alcohol are commonplace among students. They offer these substances to each other, and oftentimes become addicted to such substances. This essay will cover why this is an issue, what to do about it and what we can do to prevent the sale and use of abusive substances.

Students abusing illegal substances will face many issues in their futures. They will face medical issues such as lung cancer, liver failure and possible brain damage. The reason why the drinking age is at 21 is because that is when most brains stop majorly developing. If one were to use and abuse alcohol at a young age (or any age for that matter), they would most definitely damage their brain and liver. The results are much worse if they use and abuse nicotine, marijuana or harder drugs. Interestingly enough, the brain is one of the most important pieces of the human body. It controls motor functions, conscious and subconscious processes and much more. The brain’s value should not be underestimated, nor should one’s personal health. On the adolescent level, drugs have been proved to really mess with development of the body, brain and hormones. Those are the three things that are majorly developing at ages 12-21. Drugs completely ruin your body’s chemistry and put your health out of balance. Besides the physical side effects, drugs also ruin students’ ability to make academic achievements. They quickly lose interest in pursuing a higher education, and often lose their will to do much of anything. I strongly believe that everyone has an incredible amount of potential and that should not be wasted. That is why it is so terribly tragic when a teenager engages in drug abuse. They are slowly killing their own potential and their future.

The teenager drug plague that is in Twin does not have to stay a problem. I think that there should be incentive programs put in place that will inspire young individuals to stop doing drugs. These systems could be ones based off of gift cards, extra credit points, etc. The main premise is maintaining a drug-free state or streak. The longer they keep drug free, the greater the reward. If they are drug-free from the start, they get a bonus per semester/trimester. This is one way to decrease the drug usage in Twin Falls. I believe that a reward-based system may be the best way to help get drugs out of teenager’s systems. I would also say that having proper support structures set in place would be invaluable to this process. If a teen is struggling with drug abuse, they should have a team of people behind them, helping them make better decisions. Oftentimes drug abuse is a result of a deficit of adult attention. If the parent is hands-off, or the teachers for that matter, teens can start to disconnect. If they do disconnect they start to lose interest in putting effort into academics. With this loss of motivation, it will be quite easy to take the path of drugs. It allows them to, in a sense, bliss out and escape reality. Teenagers should not be driven to that point. They should have adequate support regardless of financial or familial complications. I suppose this goes on the premise of “no child left behind” but instead should be “no child ignored or forgotten.” It is very easy to try and ignore the annoying kid always blurting out and being a class distraction. But that kid has a future, that kid has a phenomenal amount of potential. Potential that should not be wasted. That is the challenge of education — trying to find a way to each different individual. There is no “one size fits all” solution to this problem.

The sale of abusive substances can be quite difficult to control. Often times trying to control it fails. Instead of attempting to control it, we need to find ways to prevent teens from wanting drugs in the first place. This task is daunting, but with enough conditioning very possible. Many teens are simply curious as to what happens when they ingest drugs. This curiosity can very easily be remedied by scientific observation. We can simply show them the statistics and facts about drugs and why they should not do them. If it were this simple, drugs would not be an issue. Most kids will not really care about the facts or observations. They need to see the long-term consequences. I would argue that we need to create a hands-on way to show the effects of drugs. I think the best avenue for this is actually virtual reality. I will refer to this as VR. VR headsets are quite commonplace these days. As potent as VR is, I think it would be a great idea to create a virtual reality experience based on the abuse of drugs. If kids can see this firsthand, and truly understand what effects drugs will have on them, they will not want to do them. They will not be curious about them, thus getting rid of the initial problem. The secondhand problem still stands; peer pressure and stress. As mentioned before, good support structures will remedy those issues.

I really wish it was as simple as saying: “Hey don’t do drugs, they are bad for you,” but sadly it is not. In this essay, I have gone over several reasons as to why drugs are an issue, how we can fix this issue on a local scale, and how to fix this issue on a worldwide scale. I believe that my presented solutions are valid and do have merit. I wish to pursue them in my future in an effort to get rid of drug use and abuse among all teenagers.

Drake Folks is a senior at Xavier High School and the winner of the Twin Falls County Prosecuting Attorney Drug Free Scholarship. This is his winning essay. He will receive a full tuition scholarship to the College of Southern Idaho for the 2020-21 school year. Essays were judged by Magistrate Judge Calvin Campbell, CSI Trustee Laird Stone and Times-News Editor Alison Smith.


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For future historians and artists who'll chronicle today's health and economic crisis, one humble item will stand out as the chief cultural emblem of the times: wearing a mask. Or not.

A small outbreak of coronavirus at a Fry Foods plant in Weiser gives a prime example of the importance of testing for COVID-19. More than that, it represents a warning shot across the bow of potential pitfalls if we don’t reopen our economy the right way.

As we tiptoe through Stage 2 of Gov. Brad Little’s phased reopening plan and approach a more robust Stage 3, it’s going to become even more important that we take the necessary steps to prevent future outbreaks.

And there will be future outbreaks.

The fact remains that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is still out there. It’s ready to strike again, and without a vaccine, it remains a potentially destructive and fatal disease.

Aggressive and quick testing remains one of the key elements — perhaps the most important element — of controlling outbreaks at this point.

Fry Foods offers an early case study.

The Weiser food processing plant employs 260 people to make onion rings and other food products. It shut down earlier this month when at least seven employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

Fry Foods initially didn’t test all 260 employees at the Weiser facility — only the 50 or 60 who likely came in contact with the employees who tested positive. Other employees were able to get tested on their own.

The Idaho Bureau of Laboratories (state run-laboratories) tested all that they had the capacity to do in one day, according to Kelly Petroff, director of communications for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The state lab can do about has a testing capacity of approximately 200 tests per day.

“We are not prepared to handle this,” Doug Wold, human resources manager for Fry Foods, told the Idaho Statesman, referring to the lack of coordinated response. “If you don’t have an employer who’s willing to be proactive, we’re just going to fail.”

Fortunately, Crush the Curve Idaho, a private, business-led initiative established during the outbreak to increase testing, stepped in and tested every employee at Fry Foods.

By Tuesday of this week, 20 employees — about 8% of the plant’s workforce — had tested positive for the coronavirus, along with at least two of their family members. Nearly all were asymptomatic.


That’s what needs to happen: rapid-response testing. If you have an outbreak at your workplace, get everyone tested. For those who test positive, keep them home and isolated. For those who test negative, they can keep on working and you’re back in business.

When the outbreak hit Fry Foods, company officials made the decision to shut the plant down.

Without adequate testing, that’s unfortunately the right thing to do. Without testing, you have no idea whether you have seven infected employees, 70 or 270.

We applaud Fry Foods company officials for making the tough call to shut down, even though they were given the green light by the Southwest District Health Department to resume operations.

Coronavirus is stealthy. A person can carry coronavirus longer without symptoms, potentially spreading to others unwittingly. Some people who carry coronavirus have no symptoms at all.

We are encouraged that Crush the Curve Idaho stepped up and stepped in here.

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We are a fragmented health system. Health providers include Saint Alphonsus, St. Luke’s, Primary Health, Saltzer, among others. Then think about all the entities who pay for health care: Blue Cross of Idaho, Regence BlueShield, PacificSource, SelectHealth, etc. Throw in Medicare, Medicaid and those who are uninsured.

Even our own government health management system is fragmented, with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and seven independent health districts not operated by the state.

And, in the case of Fry Foods, situated in a city bordering Oregon, workers were from two states.


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Our hope is that Idaho can chug along through the stages of reopening. Our fear is that if we don’t do this the right way, we’ll have a surge and we’ll be back to a statewide stay-home order. Nobody wants that.

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