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Op-Ed: Tracy’s drug problem must be addressed immediately

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My name is Erica Ransom and I am 27 years old. I have lived in Tracy for most of my life. In recent years, I have noticed a growing homeless population and an increase in crime. I see more and more people sleeping on benches and in parks. The stores we shop at are now taking extreme measures to prevent theft, and more and more I read in the paper about violent crime. This is not the town I remember growing up in. With total confidence, I can say that this is all due to drug abuse. I know personally because not too long ago, I was using crystal meth and living on the street in Tracy. I was even a contributor to the theft and crime in this city.

My first night of being homeless, I slept in front of City Hall. I was in constant danger and in fear for my life. I was fortunate to receive assistance from kind strangers to get out of the street, but I still used drugs for a short time after that. When I was ready to receive help, I could not find one rehab in Tracy or anything about resources for treatment online. Through perseverance, I finally got lucky and got a family member to drive me to Stockton so that I could go to rehab in French Camp. However, I don’t think that it would be as easy for others to get help like I did.

I’m happy to see that there are efforts right now to combat Tracy’s growing homeless and drug problem. I know that increasing police presence and removing power outlets so the homeless can’t use them is only a Band-Aid for this problem. The allure of drugs affects all areas in Tracy of every age group and demographic.

I grew up in a nice, two-story home and come from a nice, working, middle-class family. Drugs are one of the biggest problems in this nation, and state by state, city by city, it has rapidly spread. Tracy was once a very clean-cut community, but I’m here to say that, by experience, drugs are here and will continue to be an increasing problem until we have more resources for people to receive help.

Everyone living in this city should be invested in this problem because we are all affected by this issue in some way. Whether you used to use, have a friend or loved one that uses, or are a business owner or individual who has been a victim of theft or other crimes, you are affected. When you drive by and see people sleeping on the streets, when you see needles in a park your children play in, you are affected.

I was 14 when I started using drugs. As a child, I never thought my life would go the way it did. I hope that what I say reaches and touches people so that maybe I can save someone else’s child from getting sucked into the drug culture that we now have in Tracy.

Erica Ransom is a longtime Tracy resident. Comments can be sent to tpletters@tracypress.com.

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